I've been doing some maintenance work on one of my websites - it's a site full of photos that I've released into the public domain, and I've been doing some work on it that involves reviewing all of those photos. I started the site in 2010, and while the goal was to make photos available for people to use at no cost, it's unintentionally become a bit of a photo diary.
So in reviewing the photos, I found myself going through a life review of sorts - and I'm realizing how much my life has been defined by "crisis events" in the past few years.
I found myself thinking things like "oh, this was taken before Sputnik got sick" or "that was before my mother died" or "that was when my friend V was still alive" or "that was back when life was so much simpler!"
Back in 2009, my life was much different. I had one cat. I was working from home and I was pretty focused on living simply. But then... well, then the cats and crises all started to arrive.
It started with Smoky & Jasper who were dumped in the alley as kittens, and then I found Princess living under my tree, and then Gray Boy and the three kittens... Mix in there Sputnik getting sick - nursing him for a year before he died, two friends dying suddenly from cancer, Smoky getting sick and nearly dying but then having a miraculous recovery, my mother passing suddenly, and all of the chaos surrounding that, Princess getting sick & nursing her for a year before she died, my father dealing with a serious medical diagnosis, and the recent trauma with Gray Boy and the kittens... and I haven't even mentioned CatMan, who's dealing with some sort of neurological condition that the doctors can't seem to figure out.
Honestly, folks, I am tired. And I feel like I've been running for years, but getting nowhere.
I keep thinking about this quote from Thoreau's Walden:
The word that keep sticking out at me is deliberately. Because whatever my life has been over the past few years, deliberate is not it!
I mean, obviously, it's not like I can control whether or not my loved ones get sick and or die, but it does seem that at least some of the chaos in my life is of my own creation.
All of my life I've suffered from a "chaos complex" I just seem to invite it into my life. Actually, if I'm honest "martyr complex" might be a more accurate description. I was the kid who had to get straight A's no matter what, the employee who regularly worked 60+ hours a week and never took vacations, the person who takes on responsibilities and always holds herself to a higher standard than everyone else on the planet... you get the picture.
Obviously, in some twisted sort of a way, I am comfortable with chaos. I mean, if you're busy dealing with the crisis du jour, there really isn't any time to confront any of your own internal demons, or feel any of the nagging emotions that are uncomfortable to deal with.
So where does all of that leave me? I'm not entirely sure. But one thing I do know is that I'm going to try to step up my efforts to invite less chaos into my life.
Because, you know what... it's become increasingly apparent to me that nobody gets out alive. I know that's entirely obvious, but it is easy to forget, and the reality that life is a temporary situation has become much more tangible to me recently.
So this year, while I'm still not big on resolutions per se, I am gonna work on sorting out my priorities, putting myself higher on my list, and trying to re-shape my life and my surroundings in a more deliberate fashion.
Perhaps, rather than being swept around by the things that I cannot control, I can learn to "surf the chaos" and maintain a more centered existence.
I'm not sure what that will look like, but I'm looking forward to finding out!
So tell me, do you have a new focus or direction for the New Year? Are you reevaluating your status quo? I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans.