March 10, 2018 – Perth, Australia
When I woke up this day, I had a melancholy feeling that I couldn’t shake, even after going to yoga, which usually helps rid me of any negativity that’s lingering for no reason. At the beginning of my journal entry, I had started writing about why I was feeling this way, which was mostly related to growing apart from a close friend over the past year.
As I continued to travel and learn more about meditation, the idea of having control over your thoughts and being able to just drop things came up. This day was long before I learned about that, but this journal entry is a great example of how that can happen. I’ll spare you the pity party I was having for myself about my friendship (mostly because it would be boring for anyone who doesn’t know me), and I’ll start this entry up as my mindset changed.
My breakfast – which was amazing – came, and it kind of changed my frame of thought. Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s bad. I don’t know, it is what it is.*
I took a road trip earlier this week. I saw some amazing things, but that wasn’t even what was most interesting. To me, the driving was the most interesting. And not even the driving part of the driving. I was prepared for being on the opposite side of the road; to need to actively think about where I should place the car when making any kind of maneuver. I’d heard my dad say “stay left, look right” enough times when we were driving around the UK two decades ago. I’d heard people describe the difficulty of shifting with your left hand (I got an automatic) and using your windshield wipers instead of your turn indicator (which I assumed only happened if you’re a scatterbrained idiot, but happened to me no fewer than 10 times, so I guess we know what that means about me…). [See editor’s note below.]
But with all the preparation I tried to do (which, given that I’m me, was a lot), nothing could prepare me for actually doing it. Every time I tried to put my seatbelt on, I reached the wrong way. I reached into the door pocket instead of the gear shift. After 12 hours of driving, I still couldn’t locate my rearview mirror. It was funny but also strange that something so natural feeling could be so off.
It got me thinking about the other things in life we do without even thinking. How many things are deliberate, as opposed to reflexive? How often do we go through the motions of the hour, day, week, year – without stopping to acknowledge, question, decide what to do.
I know in my own life that I have ended up down roads and wondered how I got there. Notice even that language – ended up? As if some more powerful force placed me there? That isn’t how it works though. It’s deliberate. It’s based on your choices (or lack of choices). It’s what you’re making of your life.
I feel incredibly lucky to have realized this relatively early in life. Many women on the wellness retreat had lived this way into their 40s or 50s. Through decades-long marriages, children, career choices. Just numb and floating. I’ve already made some really hard choices in my life. It’s caused me unbelievable pain, usually when I finally wake up and make the choice rather than just floating. (I imagine the pain would be less if you stay actively engaged and choosing, but I haven’t managed to do that, yet.) But even with the pain, at least I know that it’s my life. Not someone else’s, or – even worse – society’s life. It’s what I’m choosing to make of it and who I want to become.
I’m feeling much better now than when I started writing this. That’s a nice transformation.
*This weird statement isn’t me going crazy. It was a little parable that the yoga instructor had shared about how your perceptions of things can impact your mindset. Who’s to say if something is good or bad? Mostly it just is.
Editor’s note: Joy did eventually get the hang of it. In fact, it was incredibly entertaining to drive with Joy when she first came back to the states. The windshield wipers were used often – and the turn indicators not so much.
Check out this post to start Joy’s journey from the beginning.
For more from Joy, check out her Know Your Worth interview.