We often see mountains and valleys used as metaphors for the ups and downs of life, and we can usually pinpoint the mountains and valleys in our own lives. Mountains are when we’re doing really well either physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally, or financially. We feel on top of the world. We’re unstoppable. Everything is gold-plated and rose-tinted. Valleys are the low points in our lives – say, when we lose a loved one or we get laid off or we go through a breakup. Valleys color everything in blacks and grays. I’ve done different versions of timelines of my own life, so I can pretty much give you down to the month and year the times in my life when I was on the mountain and the times in my life where I was in the valley.
But what about the times that fit in neither category? That’s where I feel like I am right now. I’m not on the mountain or in the valley; I’m standing in the middle of the plains of the midwest, and I can’t tell where it begins or it ends. Maybe that’s why it seems so unbearable; with mountains and valleys you know you’re either going up or down. This just seems… flat. Things aren’t great, but they aren’t awful either. From the outside, everything is going well. Logically, everything is going well. I have a good job, I own a successful business, I’m getting to use my degree, I have an amazing, healthy son, I’ve been married for 10 years to the love of my life, we have a safe home, and I have wonderful, supportive friends and family.
I don’t know. Something is off. I don’t know if it’s spiritually or emotionally or what, but something is missing. It could be the weather. It’s been really overcast, ya know? Not to mention the dark and cold. But usually that doesn’t bother me.
Maybe it’s because there have been little consistent annoyances since the January 1st. Getting sick, rough days at work, spilling my coffee, a 5am panic attack, on and on. Nothing detrimental; just bumps in the road. Don’t get me wrong, it all sucked, but usually I’m pretty resilient and don’t stay down too long.
So maybe it’s because Christmas is over. The magic and the joy of the holidays have passed and we’re back to the grind. Everything is back to “normal”. No more days off, no more gifts, no more music, no more collective excitement. I think this puts me closer to the issue, but this is my 31st Christmas, and I don’t remember feeling this way after the other 30.
Maybe it’s anxiety? She keeps whispering to me that the other shoe is about to drop. She’s saying, “Things have been going really well and now is the calm before the storm. Buckle up, bitch, the shit’s about to hit the fan.” Well, I feel like anxiety is constantly whispering this to me, so no, I don’t think that’s it in particular.
The more I sit with it – the more I dig and examine and peel back the layers – the more I’m beginning to think that it has more to do with the tedium of life at this moment. Not that there is anything wrong with monotony as a general rule, but it goes so against my nature (I’m an enneagram type 7). I usually have a fire in me – a blazing fire. I usually have something that is fanning the fire. Or, on the flip side, my fire is completely gone. When I’m in the valley, there is no fire. I’m just trying to survive. But, right now, it’s just a low, persistent flame. And I hate it. I don’t know what to do with it. It seems monotonous and infinite, and I’m in a steady state of – let’s face it – boredom right now. And, at the risk of sounding like a 7-year-old, boredom sounds an awful lot like death to me. Or maybe boredom isn’t the word. Maybe it’s stagnancy. What are we doing here? Let’s get on with it already!
So, here is my conundrum. Do I sit in the doldrums until they pass? Do I allow myself to lean into the discomfort of the colorlessness of life right now? It’s my nature to avoid pain (emotional pain, mainly), and I’ve been trying to be more mindful of that and to push back against my nature. Does the ability to sit with uncomfortable intense emotions also count if I’m just sitting in the discomfort of monotony? Am I just being an impatient millennial who needs action and movement all the time? Should I just shut up and be grateful for what I have? (More than likely, that last one is a yes.)
Do I resist? Do I take this feeling as a message from my gut or intuition or the Holy Spirit that something is off and that I need to get off my ass and fight for that tiny flame to turn into a roaring fire? Do I need to dig deeper to see if I can uncover just what I’m missing and which direction I need to go? I feel like God gives us desires and allows us to yearn exactly for the reason that there is something to desire and something to yearn for. Do I refuse to sit with it and instead turn this feeling into action (whatever that action may be)?
Unlike most of my posts that I feel like I can wrap up in a nice bow with pretty words and a moral or purpose, this one is mainly just me needing to get my thoughts out of my head and into words on a page rather than a nebulous nonverbal feeling that’s been swirling in my stomach. I apologize if you were expecting something more profound.
Have you ever felt this way? What did you do?
I suppose I have some praying and soul-searching to do.