The Squiggle of Life
Long time no chat. It’s July 4th today. This day is a bit perplexing to me on a personal level—I’m not going to delve into what it means historically, politically, etc. Rather, growing up, it always felt as if this holiday was a monumental marker of sorts: the midpoint of summer. Prior to this celebrated event, the early summer air is laced with anticipatory delight—June into July flutters with energy and hopefulness. The warmth is still new; the freedom is still exciting; and abundant vacant days still lie ahead.
And then something shifts. The national holiday comes and goes, and a heaviness is introduced. A feeling of foreboding sets in. The “end” is nearer, and a clashing of sorts occurs in which time feels more valuable yet more fleeting simultaneously. And it’s uncomfortable. Tense. Threatening. Fraught with pressure. I guess the term “Sunday Scaries” came about for a reason…
All of this has been on my mind lately. This calendrical sensation defined by an ebb and flow of delight is, in a sense…what defines life.
I asked my dad, someone with a few more years of life experience behind him, how it’s doable—and on such a grand scale? He seemed confused by the question. It? I realized I had to…well, realize what I meant. Parse through my thoughts. Clarify my contemplation.
So, here I am. Here are my questions:
- Why do we just go with it?
- Why do we subject ourselves to this pattern of high and then low, over and over again?
The cycle continues, as does the clock.
- Why don’t we talk about it?
- Why is it quietly tolerated by so many?
- Why is it the expectation—to feel high and then low, and to continue moving forward in life riding this relentless oscillation?
Am I alone in observing this?
Let’s bring things back down to earth. “It” (AKA this high/low phenomenon) happens societally in terms of seasons, holidays, and widely recognized occasions (i.e. Tax Day, finals season for students, and so on). For example, (many) people especially experience “it” during December into January. The excitement of Christmas—the day comes—then it’s…what now? What can we set our eyes on now? New Year’s resolutions commence in an attempt to rev things back up and induce the next high—in an attempt to make it back up to the tippy top of the oscillation (only to swoop back down again soon after).
I mean, it makes perfect sense. Humans typically live repetitive lives—some might say even monotonous lives. With repetition, we inevitably are going to seek—to crave—variation. And when we can’t find it, we’ll create it.
After a high, maybe we’re ready for a low—we have been primed. And after a low, perhaps the only way to pull ourselves back up is with the hope that a high is on the horizon. And so we push. And we allow this sensation to continue. In fact, we welcome it.
Of course, living a repetitive life isn’t the case for everyone—I’m not claiming that everyone gets up at the same time daily, heads off to work from 9-5, eats dinner around 6:30, etc.
But, regardless of how you personally live, our society does place a lot of value in routine and repetition. And there are conventions that we (for the most part) all just…follow. Food nightly called "dinner." Sleeping on rectangular raised cushions called “mattresses.” Sleeping, for that matter! These things—whether conventions, technologies, habits, bodily needs, etc.—have come about and, more importantly, have stuck for a reason. They make sense. And they make sense on a widespread scale. And, to me, there’s both brilliance and eeriness embedded in that truth.
Anyways, I’m the first to admit that I personally (like our society) am ridiculously routine. I craft my life around repetition. There’s safety in familiarity, which is what routine births. But I also question this way of life—I’ve found myself wondering if it’s what is best for me? Is it what is best for anyone?
The following words are synonymous with routine when used as an adjective: standard, normal, usual, ordinary, typical, everyday, common, conventional, habitual.
Hm. I guess this comes full circle. It does ring true that those who live lives based in routine are considered the most: standard; normal; usual; ordinary; conventional. Those who don’t live lives based in routine are those who live more flexibly; adventurously; perhaps creatively.
But do they feel safe?
Returning to the topic I started with…
If you’re like me—that is, an already extra-intense feeler of highs and lows—you already experience the day to day ebb and flow of delight. Before a meal—after a meal. Before a shower—after a shower. Before watching a show—once the show is over.
It’s exhausting. But exhilarating. And it emits the illusion that you’re switching things up regularly within the safe confines of a repetitive routine. But…it’s an illusion.
And is that okay? To be tricking myself?
It would make sense that the reason I struggle to comprehend how people are able to tolerate and move forward through the recurrent high/low flow that takes place on a grand scale—like the coming and going of summer, the holiday season, and so on—is because they aren’t drained from feeling high then low as a result of day-to-day occurrences…
So, what’s my point?
Good question. I guess what I’m getting at is:
- Everyone is different and has unique needs.
- I challenge you to simply…investigate you. Investigate your way of life, and our way of life.
- Notice! An ebb and flow of delight is…life. I guess it’s important to 1) make this observation and 2) decide what you’re going to do with it—to embrace the high highs and low lows, or to straighten life’s squiggle?
*Thumbnail image source=Pinterest