For example, earlier this year I quit, or at least, quit long enough to take a big-girl step back.
I started saying "no", a lot. And started saying "yes" to things that didn't always make sense. On the surface. To "normal" people. I'm making mistakes right and left and being both punished (depending on how you define "punished") and rewarded (ditto) right and left. It has been, to put it mildly, a confusing time.
Frequently, in the back of my head, I hear my sister relaying a snippet from our father when she expressed the need to take a vacation: From what? he said.
Because she didn't have a Job-job, like him. Because she wasn't pulling down massive dollars-per-year, like him. Because the ethos in our family has always been As long as there's more to be done, you will do it until there is no more "you" left.
Some things don't make sense while you're in the thick of them. And getting distance is a luxury that's rarely supported. I've worked hard to surround myself with hard-working people who also appreciate the value of real leisure, the ROI on hanging with friends, the importance of enjoying every moment, or, at the very least, as many as possible.
I'm still not very good at it; I'm new at it. It feels really, really weird to be in flow with my actual life, different...harder...different than being In The Moment as an actor, although that was good training.
One note at this juncture: Dad didn't mean to be mean when he asked that question that cut through my sister like a hot knife through butter; he was doing what he knew to be right, by rote. Holy shit, is that a tough one to remember, to fully accept. But there it is. He did the best he could with the thinking he'd done. At some point, I think he'd decided he'd done enough thinking. (There's a whole book in that alone. Someday, I hope to be a good enough writer to write it.)
Here's what I've learned: it takes more will, more strength, more doubling back and rethinking and re-plotting to effect meaningful, personal change than you can possibly imagine going in. Perhaps some people are better wired for it; perhaps there's something to this whole reincarnation thing and some of those among us have a bit of a leg up, personal-evolution-wise. No one here is gonna know until it doesn't matter anymore.
By definition, most of our personal growth is self-generated. But there's no shame in asking for help. Just today, I asked it out loud, again: Why can't I get anything done? Why am I stuck? What the $%@(^! is wrong with me?
And my friend, who is 10-odd years down the road, didn't bat an eye. Talked about it like I was showing her a mysterious carpet stain I needed help identifying the right cleaner for, or a piece of writing that was a little ganky and needed some tweaking.
"A lot of times," she said, "I find I resist things the hardest when it's becoming most obvious that they're really going to happen."
It was as if she opened a mysterious steam valve I didn't know existed, or tapped some chi point an acupuncturist might, or just plain old threw a light on in a slightly darkened corner of a room. All was well again, for a while, and the conundrum put back into perspective: as some Thing in my care to observe, and process, and deal with.
As I learned long, long ago in advertising, watching my friends' hotshit careers suddenly go down in flames with sudden downturns in the economy, there is no real safety; it's just an illusion. Just like there is no stasis: just periods where change is so incremental as to seem non-existent.
I am change and you are change and this, right now, is change.
This. Right now.
Learning to drift and steer simultaneously, that's both the trick and the lesson...