Tuesday, March 9, 2021


My dog Ralph is a rule-follower. At first Ryan and I thought we were probably just naturally-inclined dog trainers (until we got the husky, which proved otherwise) because Ralph learned quickly and easily. Operating within a system gives him a sense of control over his environment. But if you allow him to break a rule just one time, he concludes that the rule must not have any substantial merit behind it and he will never again obey any requests to return to the previous mode of operation. Once he has seen the light, he's not going back.

I am decidedly not a rule-follower. 

For the majority of my life I have operated from my narcissistic theory that any rules regarding my behavior must be out to get me, specifically. There seemed to be inexplicable rewards for self diminishment and for creating the most elaborate displays of having your shit together and at first, I wanted nothing to do with it. 

Then inevitably the rewards became shinier and more distracting. My strategy of fighting against something of which I couldn't exactly pinpoint had shown little positive results so I changed my strategy to playing the game with the intention to win. I thought I could "beat" the system. I theorized that I could put myself in a position where I would be so successful and productive that no one would be able to tell me what to do and then I would be free. 

Whatever that means.

Now, as we approach the 1 year anniversary of societal shutdown, I'm beginning to see my life separate into 2 distinct parts: the pre 2020 hamster wheel of productivity and self abandonment and the post 2020 conscious unfolding and feeling, rather than forcing, my way forward. 

And now it's time to integrate. 

The world has begun to spin again and I want to make sure that I am deliberate about incorporating everything that I uncovered from the stillness of 2020, into a self that can exist more intentionally within the spinning. I'm grateful that the timeout gave me space to let go of some of the habits and attachments that I wouldn't have known how to get myself out of otherwise. What I'm most grateful for though, was the timeout from the pieces of my life that I still love, but needed to reimagine. 

The potential of being able to race again fills me with purpose. I've always seen triathlon as the perfect reward system for my most natural inclinations: discipline and consistency. It has provided me with an excuse (albeit, an incredibly enjoyable one) to put my head down and work my ass off. But, like Ralph, now that I've picked my head up I know there is more and I'm not going back. I know I can be fast and have stillness. I can reach my goals without filling every extra hour of my day with productivity. And not only that, I think this may be the only way to get there.

There is a way to integrate everything into a new, balanced, more complex version of myself, and my current task is to imagine it, then integrate it. 

Moving forward, I will need to create my own space. I don't want to have to wait for the next global pandemic to break me of my addiction to an ever-increasing pace. Unfortunately what the laws of physics dictate, as much as laws sound like rules I'd like to break, is that all the energy that currently exists in the universe can only be recycled and repurposed; it cannot be created or destroyed. So begrudgingly I accept that in order to make space in my life, I must first let something go.  

In my negotiations with the universe / higher self / any other implied higher power about what I will consider surrendering, I remember that balance is the universal truth that I can't outrun. I want to work hard, be productive, and achieve great things, but I also recognize that I need and want (which is the harder word) adequate rest and space for growth. 

So I offer up my rigidity, my need to be right or seen as smart, or like I have it all figured out. Like I have anything figured out. But I don't offer it up easily... or maybe at all because that seems fucking scary. Mostly I just write it down, both in my journal and here, because I know that when I write something down it becomes real on its own. 

The latin root of integration is integrare, which means to make whole, or to renew.

When I give myself space to prioritize feeling rather than doing, I give myself permission to renew myself instead of clinging to past behaviors or labels, which once gave me a sense of belonging but since, have hardened into walls that keep belonging out. I can change directions as soon as I've slowed down enough to realize when a particular thought pattern has run its course. 

My sensitivity has always been a strength.

Which is something that I'll continue to tell myself until it finally sinks in. 

Carl Jung said that "Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life," that "The paradox reflects a higher level of intellect and, by not forcibly representing the unknowable as known, gives a more faithful picture of the real state of affairs." 

In the space, I integrate the complexity of my feeling. Even when one feeling is loud and seemingly overbearing, I listen for the timid, often paradoxical ones, which are simultaneously present and contain their own source of wisdom. 

There are always layers and there is always balance. 

Here's a picture of the husky (for balance).

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