On being in a rut

Being caught somewhere on the negative end of a downward slope sucks. I’ve been riding this wave for a while, and I still have my days (like today) where I’m not sure if it is still headed down, if it has bottomed out, or if I am finally starting the long ascent back to sea level. I just know that right now, I am still in a rut. I mean, I’ve had a lot of my life upended in the past couple of months. When I refer to this concept of ‘my life’, I merely refer to the very thing that we become complacent in. The ways I am able and most often spend my time, the people I see and spend that time with, my daily and larger pursuits, the things I am able to turn to when I have absolutely nothing to do, and so on. Just imagine it as some shelves, on it you have your items, pictures of people and other things that ultimately go a long way in defining who you are at any given point in time. Today, I’ve taken a few things off of my shelves, and moved the position of a major one or two and even with the small number of changes, it is hard to go more than a few days without really feeling the effects.

So what usually comes of such upheavals? In my case, it has really put me in a rut. I am optimistic that I am going to change the entire situation, and once again I’ll be the iconic figure of the man atop the hill, ready to staple his banner into the ground and declare that he is king of the world, but until then I know I can share many nights, empty spaces of time and vacant schedule feeling like I do tonight. I look back to where I was almost 2 months ago, I had just made a few cracks into the pile of rubble I was under and I could see some light. Eventually that turned into something that felt like I had finally liberated myself from what must have been a caved-in life. I had so much energy. I had enough ambition to power a shuttle to Neptune and back. I had my thumb on the reboot button; it was going to be a brand new story arc placed in the middle of the overarching one I had been caught in. I told myself that I’d go stir up some trouble, build some new bridges, and conquer lands neighboring and afar, then when I get done, I’ll circle it all back to where I started, and everything would be better than ever.

I still believe in that dream.

The problem is, I am looking at things almost 2 months following, and in many ways I recognize that I’m just a man standing in a hole in the ground. I’ve got my arms outstretched, you can often see the glow on my soot and rubble tattered face as I light up at the sight of any new opportunity.

“Take me! I’m coming along!,” I shout as I see any potential adventure or adventurer cross my path, but I am unable to latch on.

I’m still standing in this hole.

As a younger man I had a lot more reckless abandonment residing within myself. There was once a time where I had a friend make a list of ten random girls that I would have to ‘pursue’ in order of intensity based on the number. It was silly, it was probably juvenile and if there were actually any hint of seriousness to it, probably could have been considered a little cruel (whether that would have been to me or any of the girls is up to hypothetical history). But it ultimately it was meaningless, just a little fun, I suppose. Today, I don’t know if there is any hint of a person who would do that on any grounds, and that really sucks. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with age, and with having a few years on my belt I feel the ultimate truth of my mortality, even my social mortality.

Socializing has always been an issue of turf. I have a lot of friends who are comfortable on any social ground. I’m not. I don’t want to play by your rules. I need to take you into my world, I need to let you experience my head– it doesn’t work like most people’s. Nobody has a mind that does, and I am not going to confine myself to the idea that we can establish a set of standards and norms that say that we should have quasi-cultural-universal expectations to constrain us. I used to have a habit of leaving without saying bye; specifically in larger social events. It wasn’t meant as a slight to anyone, or an indicator of rudeness, indifference, or disgust. It was just what I did. And you can’t argue that it is a more memorable departure. If you drop off the face of the earth, people wonder about your fall. What happened to you, where did you go, are you ok, what is wrong with you– the things a mind can wonder are limitless. Anyway, I unfortunately gave up that habit after I had my mom chew me out for it once. Of course, I didn’t resolve to quit because I thought she was right, I don’t, but out of the limitless respect I have for her. Though, I wish I had never given that up. I wish I had never given any of my social ground up.

That is just the thing right now. I don’t have my own ground to stand on. I can’t usher you to my yard and say, “Hey, let’s stop inside my nice little cottage and take a look at how I’ve decorated the place.” This is too important to me though. I’m not good at being me if I am a foreigner. As it is now, I just wander from yard to yard, always on somebody else’s grounds. I guess in that regard I’m just a nomad searching for a land forgotten; no wonder why I’m uncomfortable.

It is even harder when this social concept of territory always exponentially expanded with the territory of my own adversaries. As it is now, I still don’t feel very comfortable on my friend’s grounds. I’ve been away for a long time, I get back in town and most everything has changed. New faces, new places and a lack of time for an old one to fit back into the picture. As it stands now, I understand, with a lot more clarity, why people who drop off the map for a while and go through a lot of changes always seem so hesitant and distant coming back to the former pieces in their lives. It is hard not to feel alienated. In some ways, you’ve changed a lot, but everything that you left behind feels so constant. Who wants to feel restricted? Who wants to risk being judged, even? The way I see it, it is like you have someone who eats Mexican food all the time. It is their favorite, just all things Mexican food. One day, you introduce say, Italian or Chinese food. Now they have multiple apetites to fill, multiple flavors to explore, something different that sometimes holds their interest. What does that mean when they come home for dinner and would rather eat Spaghetti than Tacos? They don’t have anything against Chips and Salsa, they love them dearly, but maybe even just once a month, they really just feel an insatiable need for some Lasagna.

Where do you go to get fed?

Unfortunately, the Yellow Pages doesn’t have any application in a social semblance. So you get in a rut. The distance you feel between the old is just as great as the distance between the potential; what could be new. I’m impressed how much of an impact this has. You might feel an inspirational tug, but you try to get creative and you feel emptied out instead. You try to be productive and work hard, but you’re exhausted after one breath. You try to reconnect, but you feel bored, or like you’re just another obstacle in the schedule. You try to plug-in to something new, but you can’t find an outlet that looks like it can power you. You try and try, but you’ve already defeated yourself before you get out of bed. It isn’t that your world has collapsed on you, just your willpower to keep that from happening has. Recharge.

As an individual, I recognize this process. I acknowledge these feelings. I… feel them, for lack of a better word. I don’t let that end the story, or a chapter, or a page, or even a sentence, if I can help it. A slump is a slump, if you keep on swinging, you’ll eventually swing your way out of it. Of course you have to work like crazy to improve that swing in the meantime, but that is the basic principle of it.

I need my own ground to stand on.

I need that equilibrium, and a home behind me to look back at so I can recognize that I, as a sole person, have influence in some magnitude on this planet. Eventually someone is going to recognize me again, or spot me hidden beneath the cluttered motion of a crowd– and that will just be the start. All I need is that foot in the door, or rather, that one foot on my own turf, and I know the hard part is done. I only hope that I have enough time between now and that moment. I need to circle it all back to the things and people in my former stage of life that were most important to me.

For now, I will feel the effects of being in a rut. I will feel the people who have forgotten about me. I will feel the unfamiliarity between myself and my body, who once had so permanently etched into its memories the secrets on how to perform a number of feats. I will feel the betrayal the so-called-artist (for lack of a better term) felt when I abandoned him for all that time. I will feel holographic on my good days, and I will feel like God considered erasing me from all existence on my bad days. In the end though, I won’t forget people, or myself, or who has placed my existence. As much as I would love to look back and give the cold shoulder to anything that makes me feel so very buried right now, when I reach my monumental moment on that hill, and I raise this flag over my head and with a quaking declaration have my moment of reestablishment, I will do so knowing that I will do all that I can to prevent the long process set into motion that ultimately sends us plummeting into a rut such as the one I am in.

Being in a slump, or a rut, or a funk, or whatever it is to you makes yourself easy prey to all sorts of negativity. Even right now I want to at least be cynical. I owe Conan one on this. I was younger once, and I felt in a similar kind of place. Being cold got me where I wanted– what I wanted, but what good was all that cynicism? Being warm-hearted about everything will get me to the same ground. It took a lot to not accept the state I’m feeling right now just to write this, but I did. Maybe starting right now I’ll get back to climbing out of this hole I’m standing in.