While filling out my application for Mission Year, I came across the question: How would others describe you?
I know how I'd like others to see me, but how do they actually see me? I didn't know. So I went to my brother and asked him.
How would you describe me?
He paused a moment then said, "Well, you like to have a plan. It doesn't have to be your plan. You just like to have a plan."
I hadn't really thought about it before, but he was right. I liked to have a plan, a guide, a direction and a destination. I still do. I love mapping out my route, creating a plan that maximizes my time, that gets me to where I need to be, doing what I need to do, in the time I want to do it.
Community and bus routes severely limited my planning ability. I suddenly had to run my plans by six other people; I had to coordinate my schedule with theirs; I couldn't just go when I needed to go; I had to wait for the bus; I had to walk in the sweaty heat; I had to ask co-workers for rides to the post office and to the vet; I had to rely on others and be flexible.
I'd like to say that all this experience with community, learning about white privilege, of savior complexes, of systematic injustices, of bus routes, of bike riding, of planning without a personal vehicle has taught me to let go, to allow things to happen as they will, to lessen my grip on control.
But that's not really true.
The Go-and-Do mentality is prominent in my family, from my dad's dad who still volunteers and is always trying to help as many people as he can, to my mom's mom who has retired twice and refuses to really stop working in her 70's, to my dad who is losing his health because his heart to take care of people is bigger than his ability for self care. Working ourselves to sickness and exhaustion seems to be normal in my family.
I know I don't want that. I want to find ways of balancing, of giving without depleting myself, of learning that I do not have to control everything within reach. I want to live a long life of service and relationships, with less anxiety and panic attacks.
It's going to be an every day lesson. It's going to take accountability from close friends in community. It's going to take insight. And perhaps a therapist. But it's possible. It's possible to learn to let go.
I practice on my yoga mat, I practice in my relationships, I practice in community. It's an every day, every moment practice.
All the above rambling was inspired by this view today:
The train was blocking my normal walking route to work, so I got on the 11 Bus because it has air conditioning. The bus driver waited the required length of time then detoured around the train. She had to skip the stop I needed, so I ended up getting off a bit farther than I wanted and had to walk over the highway. I paused for a moment to enjoy an out of the ordinary view that I don't get to enjoy often.
It felt nice to say at the moment, "Slow down. This is unexpected and it's ok. It's going to be ok."