Friday, September 23, 2011

How To Save Your Own Life

My insecurities can run away with me if I don’t watch it. I’ve felt like I’ve been walking around for a few weeks now frantic and absolutely bewildered. Time moves too fast, then too slow. I feel no control over my life or the hours as they slip by. I thought of the perfect image to encapsulate how I feel today—being caught in an riptide, being swept further away from the shore by forces stronger than oneself and not able to get control or break the surface.
There’s this lyric from Adele’s “Turning Tables”:
Next time I’ll be braver, I’ll be my own savior.

Makes me think of the title of Erica Jong’s book: How To Save Your Own Life. I hated the book, but the title is still one that’s stuck rattling around my head years later.

There are some admittedly crappy things going on in my life. Things I wanted to go one way, and the opposite happens. My health junking out on me again. There are also some very wonderful things.

It's NOT that I need to adjust my expectations, or ‘let go’ of expectations, or even pull myself up by my own emotional bootstraps—I think really it’s one of those things where I need a different paradigm. I’m asking the wrong questions about how life should be lived, and about what constitutes a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ life.

I felt the frantic and the awkward self-consciousness bubbling up before my writing class tonight, so I sat out in the car in the parking lot beforehand for awhile. I turned on some quiet music. I sat still. I concentrated to my connection and relationship to all the things around me—my fingers on the steering wheel, the air blowing on my face, the trees gently moving outside my windshield. If I am connected to the things, much less the people, surrounding me, all my self-involved concerns of awkwardness fade from the foreground.

And I suspect that control (or at least, peace) comes when I abandon my clenching fist, trying so desperately to control outcomes (which tend not to obey anyway).

How to save my own life might in this instance mean: number one, that change is possible--it is possible to stop drowning, but beating at the water more frantically isn't the way to do it. Instead, stop thinking about the self in such isolated individualistic terms and learn to exist, present, in each moment, connected to the things and people around you.


  1. It's hard for a drowning person to save himself. Sometimes he needs a friend to dive in and save them. I think that's basically the same conclusion you reached in the last paragraph.

  2. I understand completely. Something everything is just too much. Hope it gets better :-)

  3. and in general, being new sucks. Remember that it's okay for life to feel like chaos when you're new and everything si different.