And now I understand something so frightening and wonderful-
how the mind clings to the road it knows,
rushing through crossroads, sticking
like lint to the familiar. – Mary Oliver
I found a new to me Oliver quote here . The first time I read the quote I thought she was admonishing the reader for clinging to the known and avoiding the unknown. But on a second reading, I realized she was giving the familiar a loving nod. Are you really stuck in place when you cling to the known path and resist temptation to make an unplanned turn? Is it terrible if your mind resembles lint, that sticky unwanted detritus of other things? Is there anything wrong with this if you’re happy and not secretly longing for something else? Is that secret longing artifact of insecurity or mistrust with allowing yourself to be happy in just the very spot you are?
And what’s wrong with being happy where you are? What’s wrong with being happy in your comfort zone?
As long as your zone isn’t a repository for excuses masking life long messages of scarcity thinking or a place of fear, self-loathing, and distrust. Then it’s the trap of living half a life.
For the first time in a long time, the lint of the familiar engulfs me. I’ve purposefully knit a sweater out of this lint and wrapped around my shoulders. It’s cozy and warm. This familiar is enough. For the first time in decades I don’t feel I’m failing at life or some higher calling. I’m not failing my life because I’m not actively writing those books my imagination is percolating. I don’t feel like writing those books this spring. I want to be outside or reading when I’m not working. I’m writing daily but I’m not writing towards that goal. Yet.
I’m not stuck because I’m stubbornly hanging on to my job despite my continued ire with the organization and the matrices they use to judge if I’ve met their expectations. Just the other day I was told I have not met those expectations. Funny, my patients think I’m more than meeting their expectations of an insurance company’s nurse. This past week, I had three people—voices thick with tears—tell me how meaningful our calls were: “I had no idea these calls would help me. . .Thank you. . .I’m so glad you kept calling me.” I’m not relating this to stroke my ego but to affirm I’m “stuck” where I should be. I’ve never felt so confident I am exactly where I should be. I’ve never felt so confident if I am fired for not meeting an organization’s algorithmic expectations; it’s not because I’m a terrible nurse nor is it because the Universe is putting into place a plan featuring me a homeless, unemployed beggar and my son unable to complete his education.
In some ways “rushing through the crossroads, sticking like lint to the familiar” is completely foreign to me and out of my usual comfort zone of the mutable life I thought I would be leading. It’s feels more uncomfortable and fearless to allow myself a glut of contentment and the indulgence of a complaisance life. I think I never allowed myself the luxury of being still because I was afraid opportunities would be missed and never return. I’ve no doubt the Universe will tell me when it’s time to shed this sweater and don another familiar. Until then, this sweater fits nicely and is keeping me more than comfortable.