I’ve realised something profound (at least to me). My prevailing feeling, asleep or awake, is that I’m in constant transit, on the way to a destination I’m not quite sure of, trying to make my connections on time, without getting lost or missing a flight/ship/bus. I strain to hear the garbled public address announcements telling me where I need to be, to make my departure on time. I squint to read the partially obscured direction signs in the distance.
There are obstacles and frustrations. In my default state of mind, I encounter problems that force me to rethink my travel plans spontaneously, improvising a new solution on the hoof. It never seems possible to sit and think, to work it all out. I’m always in motion to somewhere, with the anxiety of maybe never getting there, but I have no idea where. I just seem to be travelling toward it with great purpose and determination.
Accompanying this feeling is the need to gather information rapidly, process it and act on it. I worry that if I miss a clue, I’ll never get to wherever it is I’m going. Luggage gets lost. Travelling companions disappear without explanation or notification. Should I wait for them, or carry on? Maybe they’ve found their own, better way of getting there and we’ll meet up again at the end of the journey.
When I’ve found myself on the metaphorical bus, or ferry, or have found my seat on the train or plane, I’m never sure I’m on the right one, which is going to where I need to go. There’s no one to ask. As the mode of transport wends its inexorable way, as I’m looking out of the windows, I’m struck by how lost I would be if I ever got off, completely unable to find my way back or to my desired destination.
I’ve described this feeling I have metaphorically, but it’s how I feel, almost all of the time, deep down in my psyche. There have been enough real occurrences in my life where I am travelling alone, to a place I’ve never been, in the dark, armed with too little information or context, on tight deadlines, that I understand how this feeling can be so vivid. I’ve travelled extensively for business where this was the case in reality. It’s also how many of our family holidays to foreign places feels to me.
In a wider sense, though, it’s also an apt summary of how my career has felt, how learning new things feels (I am an insatiable learner of new things) and how the responsibility of fatherhood impacts me. I’m lost, trying my best to get there, thinking on my feet, under pressure and anxious about not making it. The consequences for missing a clue or a connection seem drastic.
I don’t know if anybody else feels this way. For me, the journey, which many people enjoy, feels somewhat stressful to me. I feel obligated to work things out quickly, to develop competence I lack before it’s too late, to be self-sufficient and not to let anyone down. It feels like fighting for your very existence against the terror of being left behind forever.
While I love to learn, it always feels like I never learn enough, fast enough, to put it to a use that will take me significantly further forward toward I don’t know where. Every accomplishment evokes the question, “what next?” There isn’t time to savour where you have gotten to, so far, because you need to move on, before it’s too late.
I never seem to get there. I’m always on the way. Other people appear to have reached their destinations and are enjoying the sights, but I’m never there yet. I’m stuck on the never-ending journey. Life feels like a struggle to keep moving forward while it’s still possible. If I stop moving, everything will turn to catastrophe.
I don’t know what to make of all this. The feelings are recurrent and strong enough to compel me to write them down. I’m sure it has deep psychological meaning and would explain a lot about me, but I’ve no idea what to do about it or how to respond. Intellectually, I know I’m supposed to relax and let the scenery go by, as I’m moving toward somewhere I really want to go, but I don’t feel that peace of mind. I feel beleaguered.
Self-development isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Maybe they do (of course they do) and I simply don’t know how. What drives the fear of failure? Why do I think I have to be more informed, on the ball and in charge of where I am going? Why does the journey feel so chaotic and out of my control? Why can’t I just relax and let it take me wherever it will?
I have these questions, but no good answers.
How about you?