The Taste of Restlessness

Every two years. Well, every two years on average. I have to get unstuck. Where’s the next leap up? I’ve been right here for a while and I want a new view.  The feeling always starts with a sudden readiness to move, physically, to a new location. I don’t know if it’s wanderlust or just a timer that goes off in my memory that says, “we’ve always moved after this long, it’s time to go!” But what starts as a simple state of curiosity quickly descends into frustrations with my work, being blind to opportunities, and questioning the smallest details of daily life.

To be clear, there is nothing mundane about my life. I work too many jobs to have a regular routine and each job changes its schedule after a few months. I exercise by standing on my head and climbing things. I even infuse my water with a different flavor every day. So the sensation of being restless is entirely self-realized. This present reality might be easier to deal with if it manifested in a concrete way. Start walking until you’re through the all-encompassing smog. Start changing your goals and when you find the one you should settle on for the next few years your front door will unlock. Gah, wouldn’t that be nice. Of course, the dark cloud of being ready for a new challenge is highly palpable, so it’s really just the unlocking strategy that is generally elusive for a few months.

It is, of course, timely that I’m ready to admit to feeling this way at the start of the year. While everyone is setting resolutions, my present outlook on 2016 is similar to getting on a rollercoaster I’ve never seen. I assume it will move when I get on, but who knows where it’s going. In my attempts to figure out what I should look forward to next, I’ve knocked on every door that I can see clearly and have no idea which ones will open. If any of them will. I am old enough to know that it will most likely be a door I’ve never seen and that I will probably be stepping through it before knowing it was ever locked. Life is grand, isn’t it?

But all of this basic quarter life pondering has got me wondering about restlessness in general. Some researchers talk about the need for boredom (I am aware that boredom and restlessness are not the same, but hear me out). They say that the mind needs time first in calming silence and then in frustrating silence in order to stir up its most lucrative juices. Creative types find their projects in the idle, albeit trying, moments. (Cue the subtle but exciting new musical theme in the movie where our lead character seems to have landed on their big idea.) I’m working on some lines from Proof by David Auburn where mathematics is described as “slogging”/”coming in from the side.” You have to be willing to sit back for a minute before the option that will work appears.

A poem by Leopold Staff:

I built on the sand

And it tumbled down,

I built on a rock,

And it tumbled down.

Now when I build, I shall begin

With the smoke from the chimney.

Who knows if it will work, but it’s certainly forward momentum.  I’ve had some wondrously lucrative time to rest. I’m ready to approach daily life from a different angle. My restlessness asks what angle it will be.

Our heart is restless until it rests in You. –St Augustine


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