I just realized the cause of my restlessness. There’s a part of my soul that’s already dying.
I have been on a quest for meaning lately, trying to slow down a bit and figure out what’s next. This has been mostly in a work context, what’s next for the company. And yet I’ve continuously felt a bit lost, confused as to how to approach this chapter. My CEO coach said to me “What if you could spend some time sitting with this uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how to begin tackling this next chapter?” Not spend time on not knowing what’s next, but time not knowing what even comes before that. Oh it’s uncomfortable alright. I keep wanting a guide, a list of exercises, a book that tells me exactly what to do, how others have done it, pivoted, revitalized their companies, etc. I keep trying to come up with my own “plan” complete with goals, a timeline, and deadlines/check points along the way. Once it’s all done, I’ll write about it, share it with other founders so that they too can be spared this confusion. But alas, none of it feels right. And so I am to “sit” with this feeling of complete and utter discomfort, this feeling of helplessness, this feeling that the word is moving and I am standing still, this feeling that I must be moving too, in any direction if with no destination at all.
But I just realized that part of this is personal. My cousin is in Hvar, Croatia, today. He reminds me of my younger self, when I felt on top of the world. I would travel anywhere and everywhere with a sense of wonder and joy. I had my partners in crime, my best friends, my soul siters. And here I am today sitting on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon feeling purposeless. I might as well not be here and the world wouldn’t feel the loss. I’m not adding any joy to it, I’m not contributing a piece of my soul, for part of it is dying and I have nothing left to give.
My little one is napping. On some level, I feel like my whole day revolves around her and maintaining our household. She is beautiful and precious and yet I feel like she is a parasite taking away my soul to create hers. I mean that in the most loving way. Yet I cannot help but feel a sense of grief for my own loss that I must mourn. I was creating a list of “exercises” I need to do to help me creatively tackle the question of “what’s next”. I suddenly had an impulse to write down “Visit Renee”. Renee is an old friend of mine, from my college days. We’ve shared some pretty spectacular adventures together, including a visit to an old psychic lady in Ireland, and she’s a soul sister. We are in contact only every few years so this was a very random thing to end up on my list. In my effort to “execute” on my list, I pinged Renee and of course she’s doing smtg amazing and the stars are aligning. She’s in a huge empty house in Oregon hiking, boating, and spending her days pondering the same question as me. This is a surprise because she usually lives in NYC and visiting her would have been easy. What are the chances she is on a similar spiritual journey? This is meant to be.
And yet today I realized, I can’t really go visit Renee in Oregon. As much as it sounds like the stars are aligning – for some very strange reason, she ended up on my list (alongside things like meditate and talk to customers) AND she’s going through a very similar and unique chapter – I don’t even know where to begin to go visit Renee. I have a child. I’m a mom. I’m a parent. I’m a wife. How do I leave the family for a week to disconnect and go road-tripping through the American north west with an old friend? How do we create lives where these types of adventures are more commonplace? We’d all probably be more sane. A decade ago, this couldn’t have been more perfect or easier to plan. I would have found a way to put this on the calendar, packed a bag and jumped a flight. Thrown out the trash on my out, made sure the rent was paid, and out I would have gone. But today, holy shit is life different! And on some level, I feel like I can’t even begin to understand the loss that my insides are feeling. I can barely talk about this with my partner and my lovedones. Where do I begin to describe the complete loss of freedom that I’m experiencing without hurting anyone? Is it even possible to have a life as a parent/wife where you don’t feel a tremendous loss of freedom?
Imagine someone is sitting in the middle of a huge field of grass, it feels so open and so vast. It smells amazing, the air is clean and crisp, the breeze light on your skin. The world is full of possibilities waiting to be discovered. Then one day, they build a fence around the property. No big deal, it’s thousands of acres wide, you can’t even see the fence through the trees, across the river, and up on the mountain, which are all still within the property. You don’t need to go to the neighboring towns; you’ve visited them all before, spent countless days and nights there already. “What fence?” you say. A year later, they build a smaller fence, this time around the large grass patch only. “Well now I can see the fence, that’s a bit of a bummer. But hey, it’s still okay, the field is huge and vast. And I can see the land beyond it, remember what it feels to dip my foot in the water of that cold river, remember what it feels like to climb to the top of the mountain. I’ve had my fill of those and am fairly content just sitting here on the grass. I’m sure if I really wanted to go over the fence someday, I could find a way. Afterall I can still see the river and the mountain, I just can’t get to them as easily, but they’re still there and a part of me.” A year later, they build a fence around the house. “Well I sure miss swimming in the river and hiking up the mountain. I wonder if I can arrange to do that somehow, get permission, find a way to experience those things again if only for a few moments. I haven’t even noticed that I can no longer sit in my favorite patch of grass. I’m still mourning the loss of the river and the mountain. Besides, I still have beautiful grass right here in my backyard. Sure, it’s much smaller but I’m with the people I care about most and that’s all that matters.” And life goes on.
One day, you wake up and you realize that slowly life has built walls and fences around you and you hadn’t really noticed. Holy shit, you are a prisoner. A prisoner of life.
Fortunate to be near those you love and yet mourning the pieces of you that you no longer have. Including your family… you parents, your siblings, your childhood friends, your college friends, your old colleagues, etc. All replaced with a wife and child and “wisdom”. They are amazing and you are lucky to have them but is it possible for your soul to not feel so damaged, hurt, lonely during the journey? Is it so wrong to miss those places, those people, your youth and innocence?
Today I am mourning the piece of my soul that is already dying. There is no way to revive it. I will NEVER be able to re-experience life as a 23-year-old, young and carefree living in Midtown Manhattan, feeling like I’m on top of the world. No matter what we do. I will never re-experience those first few years of meeting my wife, when we had already had our first fence built around us,separating us from the neighboring towns, but still had access to the river, the mountain, and the large open field.
It probably didn’t help that this weekend we hosted two guests from out of town, a 21 and 26 year old cousins living in NYC. I think I’m feeling the aftermaths of getting older and having a family. It’s painful in a way that I’ve never experienced. Aging and growing up is a bitch.
Here is the list. Non-redacted. Because who gives a shit if anyone reads it.