11.27.2010

don’t just catch your breath. stop running.

Trying to catch my breath after weeks of running life at high speed, I realize that I’m at it again. I’m chasing activity.

That’s nothing new. But that’s the problem. After years of consciously working to develop a different kind of life, I’m back to my old crazy ways.

I want to say it’s because I’m feeling comfortable in my new city.
I tend to think that it’s just the logical – and desirable - consequence of reaching some level of competence in a new environment.
I like to believe that it’s because I finally feel free enough to get things done.
But I know better.

So why do I over-busify myself? Because over-activity makes me feel better. It’s a security blanket. A pacifier. And while those things are fine for a baby, a 54 year old should not have to suck her thumb to feel that all’s right with her world! Yes, they’re good activities. Yes, I’m capable. Yes, they need doing.

Oh really. Who am I kidding? This ‘freedom’ to make things happen, to get stuff done, to bring about change, blah, blah, blah, all too quickly becomes a burden, a trap, the very opposite of ‘free’ as I entangle myself in oh so many activities.

Ever since I can remember I have been compelled to transform ‘what is’ into ‘what could be’. 10 years ago I took an extensive motivational assessment as part of a job interview process. It accurately summarized my prime life/work motivation: “to impress, impact, make a mark, shape, effect lasting change”. Yep. That’s me. The assessment was on target, stating that my transformational motivation is triggered by the “unknown, unexplored, untried, risk, hazards and adventures” and is kept alive by “challenges, tests, and the chance to be creative”. So true. So it’s no wonder that in every new place (and there’ve been many!) I find myself chin-deep in activities that demand high-level commitment. I confess I love it. And I hope some of it’s made a difference.

But coming to Dubai was supposed to be part of a different adventure. One requiring an even greater level of risk and creativity. Not denying my primary motivating force, but viewing it from a higher vantage point; embracing a deeper kind of impact that has little to do with my areas of competency and my love of – or need for - activity.  But under the on-going stresses of this risky adventure it has felt oh so good to avoid the oh so many out of control bits of life by chasing activity. But it’s not how I want to live.

So today I remember…
…not everything needs to be changed. Some things just are.
…not everything worthwhile requires intense high level activity.
…not everything can be made better. At least not now. And not by me.
…some things are simply to be enjoyed or watched from a distance or ignored altogether. Not because they’re unimportant. But because…
…value is not measured by busyness and…
…fears are better faced than fended off.

I’m beginning to breath again. It’s a relief to be free to sit on the balcony of my 42nd floor apt. and simply enjoy the view. Or to write a blog without worrying whether or not it will change the world.

5 comments:

Jeri said...

Learning to be, not do; to love, not change; to receive love rather than to earn it.

Sounds like you and I could be twins. Abu Dhabi has been my learning place, and I am often a reluctant student....

theamerarabwife said...

Random question: when it is really windy, can you feel your building move? I've never been in such a tall building before...Husband says that we will come visit for certain, now that he hears you live so high in the air! One of his childhood fantasies was to live in a New York high rise.

Becky Stephen said...

Thankfully, we can't feel it bend and sway with the breeze! But the day the fire alarm went off last year and we had to start running down 32 flights of stairs was memorable! (It was turned off by the time we reached the 25th floor. False alarm!) I never thought I'd live in a high rise. Especially in Dubai. But here we are. And we'd love to have you visit.

logicandimagination said...

Becky - I experienced a lot of this when I left "work" and though my situation was different of course I resonated with your words. And you reminder to BE.

I'm curious what the motivational assessment test was?

MH

Becky Stephen said...

Mel, it was the System for Identifying Motivated Abilities (SIMA).