FINDING JOY IN DOING NOTHING
My whole life I have been driven by a goal. Not just one, but a series of one after another. Be the first woman in my family to get a four-year degree, the first to get an advanced degree, own my own law firm, raise six children AND have a career…constantly chasing the world view of success.
Then, in the Winter of 2016, I hit a wall. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do anything. I was exhausted. My mind, my body – it took every ounce of my spirit to just get my kids off to school. On the outside, I am sure to others, to everyone except my family, I had all of my *ish together.
“You have a law practice AND six-kids? You are amazing.” I was a fraud. I would wish their words away. Please don’t say that. I’m truly not. I am failing. Just ask my husband. My children. They will tell you that more times than not – I am unhinged.
NO DARLING, YOU CANNOT DO IT ALL!
There were days where my biggest accomplishment was that I was able to make our bed and possibly shower. If not for my husband and my 21-year old daughter – the little ones would have been feral. I am sure of it.
I remember exactly the moment when I knew I needed help. I was at the foot of the stairs and Curt was coming down behind me. This was after a particularly tear-filled day. I stopped and I turned to him and stated matter-of-factly, “I think I am depressed.” Just as matter-of-factly, he replied, “yes, you are.”
“I think I am depressed.”
We had never discussed it before and it exemplifies one of the wonderful qualities I love about my husband. He is incredibly patient and, throughout our marriage, has allowed me to reach an awareness of a thought or circumstances without a need to steer me there.
We are both fairly practical and so I didn’t feel the need to seek out a therapist or talk about whatever was going on with me. I really just wanted confirmation of what was happening to me physiologically and to get that balanced out. I opted for medication. That is not the path for everyone – but for me, it took off the edge, the anxiousness and the extreme amount of guilt that plagued me for my INability to DO MORE. Medication allowed me to calm the rolling boil that was just below the surface of my existence.
Being diagnosed with depression and anxiety was an immense relief. It helped me identify where some of the physical and emotional responses I was having to life were coming from.
I also like to think that this was the first phase to the awakening to the next chapter in my life. It was a bridge to our next life.
For my first 46 years, I was in constant pursuit of something. Some form of achievement or success. The next box to check off. Now, all I want is to get to a place of “nothingness.”
It sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it? For my generation, it also brings back memories of Luck Dragons, child warriors and a darkness on the verge of wiping out existence – YIKES! Totally not that type.
The nothingness I am talking about is the ability to be still. To not be in pursuit. Contentment.
For many in the Financial Independence space, there is a concern that people will reach Financial Independence and have nothing to “retire” to. So, a common discussion is how do we figure out what our life will look like once we reach the APEX. What will we DO once we “FIRE?”
That question IS important. For some, it simply means they continue their life just as they have been, though now they are not doing it for a paycheck. For others, it means they can work less. And for another bunch, it means they can pursue their passions, whether that is charity, gardening, traveling or the like.
For me, it means I literally want to do nothing.
As I write this I am sitting on a balcony in Portugal in the Douro Valley overlooking the river. I want to do more of this. I want more stillness in my life. I enjoy being an observer.
If you ask me what brings me the most joy in my life, particularly at this stage of my life, the response will center around my family. Not just my husband and my children but also nieces, nephews, and dear friends.
What “nothingness” looks like to me is to pause time every so often.
During one of these moments – I envision a table. A table for twenty, at least. And it is full. Mouths are full. Chatter. The table is laid out with a feast that is far too much for everyone to finish. Several are mid-conversation – smiles frozen. My children are surrounded by people who love them and when they remember their childhood they remember this table and the guests that made it full. Our table IS home.
“Nothingness” is 100’s of moments exactly like this one. Random snapshots of a full life – where nothing has been planned. No thought of what is next. No boxes to check off.
We simply exist with one another in an environment of love, laughter, and complete contentment. It sounds like everything to me.