I board the plane. I set myself up for the 9-hour flight. I take out my IPod, water bottle, book, earplugs and salty snacks and put them into the pocket in front of me. I negotiate by tender forearm touch with the woman beside me who gets which part of the armrest. She is a big Goo Goo Dolls fan, so I also decide to create a boundary of energetic silence between our two seats. Not because I dislike the Goo Goo Dolls but because anyone traveling from Amsterdam to Vancouver to watch the concert and is wearing their band shirt, hoodie and pants on the plane might be a bit Goo Goo herself.
I build and nest into my little sky home, like we all do when we travel by airplane.
I watch The Lorax. I eat dinner. And like clockwork, about 2 hours into the flight I start to cry.
I lean into my man and I bawl. He keeps eating and mechanically pats my head, as this is something he is getting used to and was expecting. And it isn’t because The Lorax “speaks for the trees” and it isn’t because the airplane curry tastes like shit. It is because I don’t know what to do with myself with all this free time.
There are theories to why people cry a lot on airplanes.
- The high stress due to potential death at any moment.
- The unnatural state of whizzing through the air upsets our limbic system and makes us extra vulnerable.
- We are leaving loved ones or heading towards loved ones, which creates a heightened state of excitement/sadness and makes us prone to outbursts.
But the reason I cry when I am on a plane is simply because I have nothing to do. And that is the hardest thing in the world for me to manage.
I spend 90% of my life working my ass off. I work so hard that I ruin chances at potential jobs and making new friends because I am too busy rushing around like a little dervish to notice. I roll all over opportunities like my Chihuahua rolls in goose shit and now I’m afraid that I’m covered in poop and no one wants to spend any time with me anymore.
All this hard work I’m putting into being awesome is making me no fun.
It comes from a place of noble intentions. It comes from trying to be good but like my memoir might read “I am doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.”
My partner says I should have a tattoo on my arm that says Do Less.
So here I am on the plane to Tuscany with nothing to do and it sets me into such a panic my body starts to release adrenaline in the form of tears.
I have been taught well to keep busy. Both my parents are very hard workers. I would come home from a weekend away at my dad’s house and my mothers kitchen would have a wall knocked out, an island built in the centre of the room and bigger dormer windows. The living room would be re-wallpapered and painted fresh as well. She would have done this all by herself.
My father has built 2 homes from scratch and every house he has lived in since has been completely re-done from top to bottom 3 times over by the time he moves out.
We want to be useful. We want to be active. We want to see and affect change in our lives but to the point that sitting still has created a panic disorder in my father, and cancer in my mother- and I recognize that this may not be a good thing.
I also know the tricky secret that when I have been in the mode of relax in the past- ideas of utter genius have blasted into my head with the greatest of ease. When I do less. More floods in. Always.
I also just recently learned that multi-tasking decreases your work productivity up to 40%. Hang on, I gotta go check my email quick…
Okay I’m back.
So I know, it is in my best interest to chill out more often.
Yet why can’t I simply stop?
Here are a few shots of me trying to chill the funk out on my recent summer holiday. Do not be fooled, I am not relaxing poolside as it seems.
Fuck, the stone villa is too dense to pick up the Internet. How am I supposed to work from here? I wonder what my mom is doing right now? Is she resting? I should have brought her here, I don’t spend enough time with her, I am not a good daughter. If I have a kid will that make her feel better? Is this a good idea for a blog post? Why do I always have to be thinking about work? Think about the wedding… I think his family hates me. I want more cheese. What’s the fastest way to lose 15 pounds?
All these articles are so literary, I find them boring. So many fancy words. I am like the white trash of writing. Maybe I should enter one of these writing contests though…there are cash prizes. How am I going to get September rent covered? There is like no money coming in except for the one job but I should just call them and quit because I tricked them into thinking it was a good idea and really I have no material and it’s going to be horrible documentary so I may as well stop before I start. I am in way over my head. Maybe I should go upstairs and start on a skeleton of the script. I’ll use pen and paper…fucking stone villa.
Mmmmmm, I like chips.
It is seriously hard work, trying to get myself to calm down, trying to get my brain to stop. And I totally believe that creativity comes out of spaciousness so if my intention is to be more creative I should actually learn to work harder at relaxing.
Do you see where I am going with this people?
This is what I call the circular cycle of the stress-doom-bomb.
Because I can’t win. I want to relax but the only thing that helps me relax is if I get some work done first so…I go into my dark hole and type, type, click away until…I miss the party again.
This is why I am attracted to pot and pills. They stop my mind. They make it impossible for me to concentrate and they fuzz me up enough to stop caring just for a little while. Then I’m more fun to be around.
I want to be able to be without any chemical help.
I want to be able to breathe deep and feel a softening around my skull.
I want to be able to enjoy my holiday at this FUCKING VILLA IN TUSCANY.
Because on my death bed I absolutely know I will remember all the floating and sunshine and smiling and loving…not if the tweet I sent out was funny enough.
But I am scared. I am terrified to the bone actually, that if I relax I will become forgotten. I am afraid that if I stop I will not start up again and I have important things to feel and do and say.
Like Spalding Gray said “I feel as if I have said nothing until someone has heard me say it.”
Another way of looking at it is…
If a tree falls in the forest and no is there to see it then the tree doesn’t matter.
I know this is my ego talking. I know that we are supposed to be wary of this little pushy bugger but I also know that ego is the driving force of humanity and even Gandhi loved the limelight.
I did not just compare myself to Gandhi?
I am not that important.
Or maybe we are all that important?
Joan Rivers would not be where she is today without claws.
Mr. Iyengar would not be where he is today without ferocity.
Tina Fey would not be where she is today without push.
Shaggy would not be where he is today without false confidence.
My dog wouldn’t be where she is today if she didn’t escape her puppy-mill pen and run away.
I would not be where I am today without my all-consuming fear of not making a beautiful enough mark on the world.
One self wants to figure out how to be here.
And enjoy being here.
Because doesn’t it look so good to be here?
And the other part of me wants to get out of the boat, go inside and write about it and that’s when the word obsession comes into my mind.
I am obsessed. And if I am truly honest with myself, obsessed is a close cousin to addicted.
I am addicted to my work.
And I am also in love with my work. It brings me the deepest pleasure I have ever known and it is always on my mind and when I do it I feel alive and useful and connected and when I think about it that way…isn’t that the most excellent thing?
Not when I’m writing this inside a dark stone building on a gloriously sunny day in Tuscany while the family is poolside perfecting their cannonballs.
I am on a teeter-totter.
Balancing with both of my selves.
And riding this fulcrum of obsession and passion is the hardest thing I have ever had to do because when some asshole jumps off at the bottom the poor kid at the top gets a nasty ass drop and I’m tired of giving myself the bumps.
I want to love the life I am living as much as I love the life I am working.
I want to let go of my grip.
I suppose, like any other game it takes a lot of practice.
I swear I’ll start just as soon as I’ve finished writing this.
ps. This post is not a subtle way of showing you pics of my glorious Tuscan vacation. It is an overt way of showing you how monkey-minded I am that I was not able to enjoy my glorious Tuscan vacation.