Sometimes I just get lost. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. This is not a new sensation for me. I’ve felt like this off and on for many years. When I was younger, these spells were much more traumatic. They would involve much gnashing of teeth and tearing out of hair, while I repeatedly asked myself eternal questions like, “Who am I?” Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose in life?”
Over the years I have come to understand that these periods of uncertainty are necessary and valuable. It is as if my mind, having finally become overloaded from the billions of bits of data that it receives on a daily basis, must shut down to ponder, integrate, and decide how to use this data. Almost always, the end result is an AHA! experience. Even so, the process can be painful.
Of late, I am having the “totally lost” feeling again. I am paralyzed with fear over my writing and dealing with a pretty severe case of writer’s block, perhaps because I am about to attend my first ever writer’s conference and I am worried about how my writing will be received. Intellectually, I know that everything will be OK, but that doesn’t keep me from stressing out. Tonight, unable to write, I turned on the TV and watched Tom Hanks in Cast Away. After he is rescued, Hanks explains to a friend how he got through four years of being stranded on an uninhabited island:
“I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail…..And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
And that’s what I do. I breathe in and breathe out and just be with my feelings. I let it all settle and sort itself out. I feel the ebb and flow of my mind, my body, my life. Because tomorrow the sun will rise and surely something new will float in on my tide.