Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.
~ Zadie Smith
A couple of weeks ago I had a frightening episode. Chest pain and a trip to the emergency department of our district hospital in the wee hours of the morning swept me into a vortex of confusion, fear and anxiety. Physical pain is such a distressing sensation isn’t it? So much so that it’s easy to get caught in the maelstrom of the moment — erasing what came before, blocking any alternatives in the present, and wiping out possibilities for the future. And even though my pain subsided within a few hours, that whirling moment stretched to a number of days.
At the hospital, the night shift handed over to day staff, but the cause of my pain hadn’t been found. An anomalous electrocardiogram reading (my heartbeat on paper) added to the puzzle. I was invited to stay and be monitored for another 24 hours. The next day, my pain still a mystery, I was discharged with the proviso that further tests be undertaken.
Even though physically I was feeling like myself again, I was still trapped in that whirlpool of fear and anxiety. It brought on a melancholy and an incapacity to think about my work. It was enough to wipe out all my intentions for the week and take my mind off the big picture and my path.
Your journey is unfolding as you go along. It may be a journey to another place, an inner journey to discover more about yourself, a creative journey, or a journey of the heart. Each of us is on a journey, whether or not it’s a conscious movement along a path.
Of course it’s your choice — which path you take, if you turn right at the fork in the road, whether you detour to look at something, the time you take – a sprint or an amble, and who you befriend along the way. But even though it’s your own design, sometimes an unexpected turn or a few obstacles in your way can sweep you off your path.
When I reflect on the the past fortnight it seems less momentous now. Yet it had the power to stop me in my tracks. I stumbled and lost my footing, and my purpose vanished in the maelstrom of the moment. It’s quite difficult to bring your focus back to your intentions, your purpose, when you lose momentum. I’m still working to get back to a steady rhythm on my path.
As I put one foot in front of the other, I’m reminded of writer and leadership speaker, Robin Sharma’s words:
What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.
It was my birthday a few days ago. Seeing the numbers that make up my age was a brief but bitter jolt of reality. I was flabbergasted for a moment. When did that happen? How did I get from forty-something to fifty-something in a blink of an eye? One thing is certain — time is passing (it seems faster these days) and fifty-something means you’re closer to sixty than forty.
My tests have proved inconclusive, but my heart is okay, and that moment has passed. I acknowledge Robin Sharma’s words, ‘what you dwell upon determines your destiny’ and I have changed my focus. I am thinking about all there is to celebrate in my life and I have a year of adventure to look forward to. And my age? Well, it’s not something I dwell on although my birthday was a reminder to get on with my life.
It feels good to have found the path again. Returning to my morning ritual has been helpful in bringing my thoughts back into perspective. My intentions and my purpose have been, as Zadie Smith says, “restated and reimagined”.
This morning in my journal this question appeared:
The odyssey continues. . .
P.S. Have you ever been caught in the maelstrom of the moment, a period when everything was subsumed by what was happening at that point in time? It may have been a good experience or not so good. How did you deal with it? Please, share your thoughts in the comments. Your stories are most welcome.