“Do Not Disturb Wildlife”
Well okay then …
I laughed when I saw the little sign last Tuesday morning after dropping my kids off at nature camp. So much so that I had to jump out of my car and take a photo before driving away.
Thinking to myself, “Well, that means something.”
Wondering aloud to myself, “What if you are the wildlife?” Pausing and blushing in slight embarrassment as I held that idea for a moment. “Holy shit! I think I might be the wildlife!” I laughed a little too loudly at my self-revelation. Probably disturbing the bees and butterflies. “Shit! I think I am.”
I must admit, lately I do feel like I’m living a Wild-Life rather than a Tranquil Butterfly Garden that does not want to be disturbed. I’m considering that I am the disturbance. I am the bull in the china shop. I am the person inadvertently dropping, spilling and breaking things. It’s me.
This happens when I rush and when I am tired. I know this. The difference is that I’m not berating myself about it. I’m just noticing — this is where I am right now. I need to slow down. I do. But there simply isn’t enough time. Enough moments. And this has to be okay because, in truth, there are no other options.
Today, I am 18 days out from Ironman. The final push that leaves me feeling like I could crack. Snap. Pop. Fizzle … The image of an inflated ballon being set free. Zooming around the house. Extinguishing itself with its comical fart-sounds. Yup. That’s me. “FFFFZZZZZZZZ-AAAAAAAA … PUUP … Pfffftz!” Sigh.
In many ways I am feeling as I did after giving birth to each of my children. We had nine months to prepare for their arrivals — but let’s face it — nothing on earth prepares us for the first few months with an infant. Sleep deprivation, exhaustion and exhilaration mixed together by the Vitamix of life. Whirring its deafening hum. Blending my hodgepodge of ingredients together into something I hope to be deliciously satisfying. Knowing, however, there are never any guarantees. You never really know what you’re going to get when you toss a bunch of random stuff together. Sometimes it’s better than expected. Other times, not so much. In my world, recipes are guidelines. Not laws. We grab as we go and hope for the best. Substituting collared greens for kale and melon for the peaches. It’s about improvising. That’s the best we can do. We use what we have on hand in any given moment. That’s living.
There are no little signs telling us how to manage life.
Fear. Love. Terror. Bliss. All of it mixed together like the long-sought-after smoothy that has the bitterness of kale masked by mango and plump blueberries. The creation of something delicious out of things that would … well … suck if they were on there own. That.
Life is wild.
We can’t really prepare for it — these Wild-Lives of ours. Rarely do we find little placards telling us what we can and cannot do. There isn’t a manual; although we frequently find ourselves searching for one. Often we make it our life-quest to find it — this elusive life-instruction book. The answers. The truth. The meaning of life and how to live it.
We think to ourselves — if we just get it right — life will be delicious. It’s all fallacy — our belief that there is a handbook to life. That there is one right way to do it. Or our hope that there is.
Nothing is written out.
Like the infant launched into life without a how-to booklet. It’s all a crapshoot — this living-thing that we do. A leap of faith. A bunch of fibrous veggies blended together with some sugary-sweet-fruit.
You do have to add the fruit. Otherwise forget about it. You might as well quickly toss it down the drain as my children do when my husband makes us bitter green juices in our Vitamix. Leaving us all retching in disbelief as we watch him drink his down. Hooting out, “NOOOOO!!!!” Thinking, “Really?”
I must confess, I often ditch mine too. Or absentmindedly let it sit for too long; claiming it was spoiled. Sometimes waiting until everyone has left the house and raiding the freezer. Whirring in some frozen cherries and pineapple. Because … well … somewhere I’ve been informed that green juice is good for us.
I might as well sugar it up a bit.
To me, the sweet stuff is paramount. The love. The joy. The deep pull on our hearts that reminds us why we get out of bed in the morning and live our Wild-Untamable-Lives.
And while I know this to be true, these days as I train for Ironman, I notice that fatigue leaves me wondering which end is up. Like the sleepless new parent who loses track of days and nights. Forgetting when the last shower was taken. I am choosing which path to take on a minute-by-minute basis. Dissecting my days into manageable increments of time. Uncertain if these final pre-Ironman weeks are joy-filled or arduous. Maybe both. Probably both.
Training isn’t negotiable. Too much is invested. Too much time. Sacrifice. Commitment. Not just on my part but from my family as a whole and from helping friends. Yet for the first time ever, I find myself wanting to cut corners. Delaying when I start my workouts so I have to shave a little off of them. Is this fatigue or fear? I’m not really sure but I’m trying to figure it out.
I’m digging deep into the depths of my very self to find the answers now. During the countdown to race day, so I don’t have to slay any mental demons while I’m on the course.
In this final push, as the event becomes so real I can almost taste it — I often find myself wondering, do I want this? Do I even dare to dig that deep inside of myself? To push that hard? To ask that much of myself?
It’s scary to risk so much. It almost seems easier to tell myself that I don’t want it.
Sort of like having buyer’s remorse after the 18th sleepless night with my newborn daughter. Looking at a fragment of my former-self in the mirror and asking, “I wanted this? Did I really? Really? Maybe I can just send her back.” Knowing the absurdity of the thought and appreciating that fatigue has truly taken hold of my rational thinking.
Doubt or not, we do keep believing. We raise our smoothies to our lips. We swaddle and shush the newborn into the wee early hours of the morning. I plant one foot in front of the other. Doing my best to push back the fatigue. Hoping that while we never followed the recipe, the smoothie will be delicious despite our uncertainty.
Usually life asks us to tolerate some discomfort in order to experience the joy. Life is like that. Our Wild-Life. It is untamable. Thank goodness. Filled with uncertainty. Let’s hope.
And risk. We cannot forget about risk. It is always a risk to be our best-selves. We worry what it will mean if we don’t end up with the results we were hoping for. What will it mean if we fail or fall short? With that fear, do we allow our vulnerability to give us an out? Do we not challenge ourselves in our daily living because risking can be bittersweet?
There are no guarantees in our instruction-manual-free-lives. But still we must always choose. We have to decide, are we going to embrace our whole-selves or only bits and pieces of ourselves?
Truthfully, if we make a smoothie out of ice and blueberries — it’s not really a smoothie. It’s smushed up icy berries. That’s all. A smoothy is whatever you can get your hands on. On a good day, it’s bountiful fresh fruits and veggies. On a not so good day … when a tired-training-mother hasn’t gone shopping … it’s a wilted stalk of celery and whatever else we can pilfer from fridge and freezer.
Life is what it is on any given day.
With that, I’ll try to respect the wildlife. No one really wants to get stung, but sometimes, just sometimes, I can’t help but cause a disruptive ruckus. Planting my tired tush down among the flowers and butterflies. Taking a little catnap within all of the wildlife and hoping the spiders, wasps and snakes will quietly coexist beside my weary body.
Risky living is worth it. The possibilities are endless. At least I think so.
Take care. Stay true to yourself in your Wild Life. Take risks and add sugar. Lots of sugar.