“Buildings and bridges are made to bend in the wind.
To withstand the world, that’s what it takes.
All that steel and stone is no match for the air, my friend.
What doesn’t bend, breaks.  What doesn’t bend, breaks…”
~Ani Difranco, “Buildings & Bridges”


The secret to a structure that can withstand an earthquake, a hurricane, is its ability to move with the storm.

If a building is too rigid, it won’t be able to take the extra pressure on it, and it will crack and crumble.  But if it can sway when the ground sways—if it can move with the gale-force winds instead of trying to stand solid against them—it will survive.

This is the concept behind the practice of Tai Chi—to fight back by not fighting back, to diffuse your opponent’s energy until he wears himself out.  You neutralize the oncoming attacks by yielding to them.  You become the building, accepting the forces of the storm, and eventually, the storm runs its course—and there you still stand, calm and serene as a Zen master.

This needs to be my visualization for myself, because things have definitely gone astray…


How NOT to Live

Lately, I’ve felt under siege—by my own obligations, by the emergencies and inconveniences that spring up in daily life, by the very act of getting from the morning to the evening in one somewhat un-dented piece.  I feel exhausted.  I feel overwhelmed.  I feel like, in spite of having so many amazing things to be thankful for, life is just one big demanding wave-after-wave, and I’m being tossed around like a rag doll.

But that’s the thing:  I’m not being tossed around like a rag doll.  That would imply yielding.  Instead, I’m bracing for the next onslaught and swimming like mad against the current whenever the tides calm down for a minute, instead of letting them take me where they may and using my energy wisely.

And most of this is my own stupid fault.  Most of these waves are of my own creation, and after fighting through so many challenges I’ve brought unnecessarily upon myself, it’s no wonder I feel at my wits’ end when something unexpected pops up, like the husband getting bronchitis on top of a stomach bug as I start to come down with a cold.  A better-strategized person would be able to handle these curveballs more gracefully.

Then again, a better-strategized person would be able to make it through a normal day more gracefully, too.

Clearly, I am not very good at what I’m doing.  Blogging and freelancing and day-jobbing?  Sure, I do those pretty well.  But just being a human being alive and happy with her life?  Not so much.  And it’s clearly time I start working more on that again, because that used to be a part of what this was all about…


The Tides, They Are A-Turning

Somewhere along the way, I got so caught up in the Grand Master Plan that I forgot about the underlying plan for this blog: “setting myself on a mission to learn to live deliberately.  To make intentional choices, to live an intentional life, and to try to make each day just a little bit closer to the life I’d like to live.”

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of that simpler, much more complex goal.  And in order to ever get myself back to a point of equilibrium where I can know how much is enough to truly make me “happy,” I need to first get myself to a point of non-trying.  Of non-fighting.

I need to learn to stop struggling and hustling and striving and doing, and just be.  I need to strip everything away again and then start building things back on, intentionally and purposefully.

I need to learn to be happy and still, and to be happy being happy and still.  (Not just keep writing about it, but finally sit the fuck down and do it, she reminds herself.)

I need to focus more on the Quits and less on the hustling, at least until I can gain the wisdom to learn to hustle the right way.

I need to learn to bend.

That bending starts now…


Image: Benjamin J. DeLong / Flickr

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • Cat

    I hear you. Sometimes I feel like my life is one long struggle against myself. I live in the frenzy because it is so much more comfortable than actually having to face myself.

    • Rob F.

      I second that sentiment, Cat. The annoying thing is, for me at least, living in the frenzy still sucks; I’m cranky, irritable, panicky and despairing of doing anything right.

      • Cat

        Ditto. It was a real shocker when I quit my job 6 years ago to enjoy a leisurely life of passive income, and discovered that I drove myself even crazier than I had been when working 60+ hours per week! It suddenly became very clear that I couldn’t actually blame it all on my job and my boss.

        But I’m slowly improving in my quest to accept myself – and the more I can do that, the more the frenzy subsides. The process does require allowing myself to actually feel the panic though, and it takes remarkable self discipline not to run away from the crazy out of control emotions all the time.

        • I’m very similar to you. I work so much harder when I’m working for myself because at the office, there are lulls and there are clear delineations of when the work stops and when it starts again. I hate those false boundaries, but they DO prevent me from going at a go-go-go-go pace all the time. When left to my own devices, though? I’d work myself to the ground if I didn’t have the husband to once in a while tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you should maybe relax for a bit…”

          Have you read my post on my Jack Shepard secret for dealing with panic? I think it might help you:

      • That’s it exactly. I’m not happy because I’m not focusing on what really needs to be done for my happiness—AND I’m not happy because I’ve turned my passion (writing) into another monster to be faced every day.

        Hopefully by focusing more on the happiness bit, both elements will naturally fall more into place.

    • That may not be my motivation, but it winds up being the result: I get so caught up in getting the checklist checked off (and doesn’t that feel so good and productive!) that I never have the time anymore to focus on the more important things–like, you know, my overall happiness and life skills…

  • Yes – All.This.

    I’m surprised this one wasn’t included in the “If you liked this…” list for!