I am going to dedicate this post to the Bear, who does not understand my restlessness, and worries that he might have something to do with it. Just for the record, he doesn’t. My restlessness was a part of me long before he arrived. Between the ages of 16 (when I left home) and 27 (when we bought the house we are living in now) I lived in fifteen different houses. If I got sick of being in a certain place, I packed up and moved. In fact, that’s how I left home: I woke up one morning in my childhood bed, in our country farmhouse, on our 150 acre farm, and thought to myself, I can’t stand it here one more day. I rang my grandparents, who lived in the town where I went to school, and asked if I could come and live with them. I packed my bags, said goodbye to my shocked parents, and moved out. I kept my promise – I stayed with my grandparents for the year, finished year 12, received a good mark for my Higher School Certificate, and then hopped on the bus to Sydney with my best friend. And so on. My restlessness didn’t have anything to do with my parents either – they loved me, looked after me and missed me when I was gone. The restlessness is within me, and I take full responsibility for it – its presence, and what I have to do to keep it quiet.
In the past, if I felt restless, I would move houses. That would keep the beast quiet for about 6 months, until I would want to move again. Now that we have a mortgage and two children, I feel firmly rooted in place; but not always willingly. Sometimes it is with gritted teeth and straining muscles that I stay in the one place: restlessness sweeps over me like a fever, and I will fight and snarl and sulk until it leaves me in peace. My family are so happy living in the one, dear little house, with all of their comforts around them, their rhythms and routines, and mostly, I am too. I manage my restlessness by cooking and eating widely, dressing eclectically, and consuming a broad range of media. Studying helps, because I get to delve into something new every four months; having work that has variety and challenge is helpful, and spending time with my friends soothes my restlessness like a cold swim on a hot day. Having a spiritual practice definitely helps because it calms, centers and grounds me. My restlessness often kicks me out of bed well before the sun comes up to write or study or read, and I’m fine with that too.
But sometimes, none of that is enough. Sometimes I have to go away, and when I do, the Universe usually arranges something fun for me to do (I kid you not). This time, my restlessness has coincided with a house sitting offer from my parents who are away travelling for a couple of weeks. I leap at the chance, seeing it as an opportunity to get out of a rut and have a different, fun experience somewhere else. At this stage of my restlessness, the familiarity of my surroundings and routines is rapidly building into contempt. From the outside, it probably looks like a lack of appreciation for what I have, but I am not sure that restlessness equals ingratitude. I think it is what it is, and it comes and goes of its own accord, regardless of what is happening around me. Sometimes, this holy restlessness does herald some kind of change, but not always. It doesn’t lend itself to analysis, and I don’t even try.
So, the kids and I packed up at the beginning of the week, and settled into my parents house. We are close to town, so it is a much shorter day for the kids. I drop them off and pick them up from school, which they love. I am in week four of second semester, so I come home and study. One morning I go to yoga and have lunch with friends. I cook dinner and wash the clothes, keep things tidy, do the chores, pay the bills and organise insurance and kids after school activities. I write, read and do yoga. In short, I do all the things that I normally do, but somewhere else. I do different things too – Alani and I have a spa in the evening, outside. I explore the river bank with my parent’s old dog, who is beside himself with joy in one of his favourite places. I take the opportunity that a change in routine gives me, and eat differently. I commit to a daily yoga practice while I am here, make a time in the morning and do it. I journal more. I look out the window and see different trees, different birds and a different river. This weekend we’re travelling up the coast for a cricket training day, and that will help too. I feel my restlessness ebbing away. Maybe there is a change coming, or maybe I just needed to switch things around. Who knows?
Do you have your own brand of holy restlessness? How do you deal with it?