Ever get that feeling, the phase you go through before you get an adventure craving? Over the holiday break, I was in a seaside resort town in the middle of winter with my Adventure Partner’s family. I had been looking forward to the quiet and rest usually offered when in a small town, snowed in. But an old feeling crept in. Old, as in years of feeling this…before I discovered how to feel alive. The only way I can describe it is that I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin!
Instead of giving into the uncomfortable feeling, I went with a coping mechanism I’d learned years before. Usually, when one is not feeling ease, it’s the easy way out by trying to distract oneself by busy-ness. A person in constant motion doesn’t have time to understand what’s really going on (in some circles, this behavior is called denial). Instead of leaping into a rash action, I stopped and took a look at not just what I was feeling, but where it was coming from.
Awareness of this feeling was my first step. Putting names to what I was feeling helped. *Meh*; Existing but not living; complacency; frustrated; dead or empty inside; living small; restless. Do any of those ring a bell? Looking deeper I felt I was also feeling inauthentic, limited by my perception of politeness.
Once I got all those feelings identified, I was able to also look deeper into them and discover where they were coming from, or rather, what underlying fears were being masked by these dulling of my senses. Why do all this? Because feeling so blah (and not just “winter blues” or even the more serious SAD) is not a fun state to be in – once you’ve tasted having an adventurous outlook on life going back feels incongruous, as irritating as the old saying of “nails on a chalkboard.”
I felt so stuck. As if I knew all the back roads, the local coffee shops and even where my wild turkeys hung out. What was there to discover? The sameness, the familiar routines, the safety of doing what’s always been done…made me feel quagmired and not the adventurer. Oh, what to do about this and not come across as a crotchety old lady!
Somehow shifting this out-of-my-skin attitude with my usual tools didn’t feel applicable. No journaling, no distracting with social media or work (ok, I did do some of that), no meditating nor creating adventures to escape. I went with sitting with my feelings. Allowing myself to really feel this…you know – the “feel all the feels” thing. Allowing the space for remembering old memories and feelings to come up, and to not squish them in some dark internal corner.
Surprisingly, when I did this, I was (in a sense) able to talk to these old issues and thank them. And then tell them it was time to go. Not as easy as it sounds, but it can happen for you too, with practice. Acceptance takes learning, training, and even work to accomplish. Empathy and compassion for oneself helps too. Yup, not easy. Especially when you have a sullen teen hanging around and you want to participate with the comfortable people who live in this small, seaside, snowed-in town.
The phrase of being able to discover adventure in one’s own backyard, and that everywhere is someone’s backyard…kept running through my head. Baby steps, not some big event, was going to cure my craving for adventure. Would it be discovering a great story in my book on pirates? Or would it be creating a new dish that everyone enjoys? I wondered. And left the outcome up to my sense of wonder.
How did I get jolted out of my stuck-ness? We took a different route, and drove by a house that had formerly been pass-by-able. A house transformed by an artist into a black and white intrigue. Following one of my own “Adventure Attitude” tips of “Always Be Curious” I asked about this dwelling and learned parts of the story. Good art is supposed to make you feel something. This piece did! It excited the curious little girl inside me, made me happy to see it and to dream of what it would be like to create it.
The excitement I felt looking at this new addition to the small town’s art collection made me feel alive again. My little adventure of leaving the Cafe to go take a long look at it, led to another fun adventure – connecting with the artist on social media! Which has led me to learning more about W. C. Bevan, a famous street artist in Detroit. In an interview (speaking-with-detroit-based-artist-wc-bevan) when asked why he did a certain, somewhat risky piece, he replied “Why not? It was fun!”
The whole process I went through brought me back from blah to fun. I know this feeling of wanting to break out and live, this craving for adventure, is not unique to me. You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t felt this way at some point (or still do!). I recently came across this poem by a well known Irish poet, John O’Donohue. It seems to describe the journey so well:
A New Beginning by John O’Donohue
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Tell me your words to describe that feeling of “wanting to crawl out of your skin” and what/if you did to shift it (in the comments below!)