I feel like I’ve been floating in my little boat of uncertainty for months and months. The pandemic, and all its outfalls, has thrown me into the liminal space and made me feel at sea. And while things seem to be improving with more and more people getting vaccinated, I’m still having a difficult time making plans for the future.
Thing is, I love having plans. I love having goals to work toward. I love dreaming about what’s next.
But the pandemic has pretty much killed a lot of that.
Is that the lesson I’m supposed to learn?
Is this time supposed to teach me to focus on the present, appreciate it, and stop planning so much?
But why can’t I do both?
Can’t I have plans for the future and still appreciate the present moment?
Can’t I be grateful for what I have today while still dreaming about tomorrow?
Maybe what I need to learn is how to hold these two seemingly conflicting desires within myself?
It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both.
My plans change ALL THE TIME. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that is totally true. And the thing is, I’ve been okay with changes in the past. But during this pandemic, I’ve had a much harder time forgiving myself for the projects, goals, and ventures that don’t work out. I’ve been experimenting a lot–which is a big part of who I am–but nothing feels like it’s becoming what I want it to become.
Maybe that’s the greater issue?
Maybe it’s my insistence that things result in something tangible in the physical world?
But what about the metaphysical world?
Haven’t I changed for the better because of my experiments?
Haven’t others also received benefits from them as well?
The answer is a resounding YES.
Just because my recent ventures haven’t resulted in the typical measurements of success in the physical world (more money, more gigs, bigger audience, etc.), does not mean they haven’t been of great value to me and to others.
Maybe this is the key?
Plan for the future, do the projects I want to do, and assess both the conventional and metaphysical outcomes. (By the way, did you know that “metaphysical” means “over and beyond the physical”?) Here’s an example.
Is this project profitable and is this project giving me energy rather than taking away energy?
Valuing the metaphysical and emotional doesn’t mean that I don’t care about selling more books and zines, making more money, or growing my audience–I care about all of these things–but I need to balance the physical outcomes with how the work makes me feel. Because if I don’t feel good while doing the work, then all the physical success is not going to matter one iota.
Again, it’s not one or the other, but both.
I have to admit, though, it’s hard to start again and believe that it’s going to be different this time. Since I’ve been floating in my little boat for a long time and none of the shores I’ve visited have resulted in what I wanted, I’ve stopped paddling. For months, I’ve been staying in one spot.
But it’s not my natural state of being. I don’t feel good staying in one spot and letting the wake and the wind rock me. I need to steer my ship.
This time, when I get to the next shore, I’m going to truly take my time exploring it. I’ll meander down every trail, pat the trunks of trees, even taste some strange fruits. I’ll take time to appreciate the present when things are good and when things are rough and I want to get back in the boat. This time, I’m going dig my toes into the sand and stay for a while.
Of course fear rears up whenever I think about paddling toward shore again. But I’d rather have fear than this ongoing angst and immobility. Time to take some deep breaths, drop my oars into the water, and start rowing. It’s okay if the next shore isn’t what I thought it would be. Who knows? It might be something better.
ps. Can you relate? If yes, are you floating or paddling?
Peg Cheng is the author of Rebel Millionaire, a guide for how to retire as a millionaire even if you make a modest income, and The Contenders, a novel that asks, can enemies become friends? She is also the proud owner of Plaid Frog Press with her husband Marcus Donner. Born in Southern California to Taiwanese parents, Peg currently lives in Seattle, Washington.
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck