In our everyday life, we yearn for answers. A solution to a sticky relationship problem, a confirmation that a project will be completed on time, a knowing that the new hire will work out, a tip on where to find the special ingredient for a new recipe. Photo by dannysullivan.
Recently, I told a colleague, "I'm in a place of no answers."
Two months ago, I was a mess. I had taken four weeks off from work, only to jump back into my startup, My Alumni Link, and feel even worse than I had before the hiatus. More time off was what I knew was needed.
Since then, I've done a lot of crying, sleeping, and exhaling into a new rhythm of life. Untethered like an escaped helium balloon, not sure of my work in the world, with no schedule to tell me who I really am, this is a place of no answers. Photo by josephpetepickle.
I have gotten clues to what lies ahead. But if I push too hard for "the answer", I know I'm screwed. The biggest questions in life demand that we not only carve out time to focus, but that we have the patience to let things unfold, in their own time. Gentle attention is probably more like it. Process is more important than getting to the end result quickly.
What I hold on to from day to day are the things I know I find joy in–writing, coaching, yoga, hiking. I have had moments of wonderful flow, when thoughts, ideas, and feelings burst through me. I'm in my full power. There is no gap between potential and reality. And other times, I can feel myself drifting back to "working" in a way that is hard. Photo by gnuckx
This place of no answers is typical of most transitions. Many years ago, I found William Bridges' work on transitions. With every change, there is a psychological process that everyone goes through–when the "old thing" has ended and the new beginning has not yet started. This is the Neutral Zone. It can be both confusing and time of great creativity.
I am in the Neutral Zone.
In the place of no answers, it helps to admit that you are there. It helps to ask for help. It helps to surround yourself with people who love you and believe in you. It helps to give yourself a break.
After all, we're only human. Or maybe what's more apt is to say, this is a time when being human is more important than anything else.
Letting myself be vulnerable has meant letting myself be loved. I have been cheered on and touched by the love of those close to me and people who I've never met. A friend called the other day to see how I was doing. He had noticed that I looked tired a couple of months ago when he had been at my house, not to visit but to clear out our gutters. He knew to give me space before contacting me again. My college roommate emailed me last week, to tell me how much she appreciated my blog posts about burnout. It brought tears to my eyes. These are sweet moments in life. Photo by Lel4nd
With the worst of times, comes the best of times.
I have a friend who had a stroke last year. She started back at work early this year and has slowly been adding to her schedule as her capacity increases. My friend knows about moving into a different pace of life, a more human pace. We have had intimate conversations, over the phone and through email. We talk about when our egos want the old thing that we know and when our soul gently tells us, "Honey, trust me. You don't want that. What's to come is even better. Just be patient."
On my good days, I listen to my soul. On my bad days, my ego is riding me hard.
With a post about no answers, there is no tidy conclusion. Only more questions.
For you, what question is better left unanswered right now?