Hello officer – the tremor you’re seeing is not fear. It’s fatigue.

transportation security administration officer screening a bagI recently had to fly halfway across the country for a work commitment. I had to fly out early, which meant I had to get to the airport really early… and that meant I had to wake up really really early.

Not much fun, to be honest.

But I did it.

I hadn’t been sleeping well, for several days prior to that – I was getting maybe 5 – 6 hours a night, which is no good. But that’s what I had to work with, so… that’s what I worked with.

The drive to the airport felt like it took forever.

And just getting from the parking garage to the terminal was another slog. One of the wheels on my carry-on was “wonky” and it vibrated really loudly, as I pulled it along. Not the best thing, when your hearing is already over-sensitive.

Anyway, by the time I got to Security, I was a little shaky. I was operating on maybe 2 “cylinders” (out of a potential 4), and I hadn’t had my full breakfast like I usually did. I was off balance and out of sorts, and when I handed my boarding pass and ID to the security officer, my hands were shaking a bit, like they do when I’m overly tired.

The officer gave me a look, and I tried to exchange a few words, but I was “off kilter” and my voice was shaky. I started to get nervous, wondering if they were going to alert others that I was a sketchy character. They gave me another look, and I just shut up. I sounded a little drunk and discombobulated, and my hands were trembling. That’s never a good sign, when you’re trying to board a plane. So, I did my best to gather what dignity I could and just moved on to the x-ray screener – hands over head – and then walked on through.

Fortunately, my luggage made it through without incident. At the last minute, I remembered to pack only small bottles of liquids and creams. That was a last-minute change, because I was going to take full tubes of toothpaste and a special skin cream I need to use for my beat-up hands. At least I got that right.

In the end, it all turned out okay. But I really hate that feeling, when my neurology is acting up on me, and I’m interacting with someone who can flag me as a risk, take me aside, pat me down, possibly strip search me (worst case). The worst case didn’t happen – not even close. So, that was good.

And the trip went pretty well, from that point on.

So it goes.

And so I go… onward.

Working my plan(s)

Got a ton of stuff done over the weekend. Sore as hell, but it’s a good sore — the kind that tells me I was productive.

Spring is definitely here, and with it comes a sudden surge in energy. The trip to see family did me good, in that it broke me out of my rut and got me thinking again about how I want my life to be, and how I need to shape it. Seeing my family members — both sides — all pretty much stuck in their status quo lives, with their resignation to “how things are” and their petty in-fighting and their self-satisfaction over “accomplishments” which are from just doing what they’ve been told to do, year after year… that was so depressing.

But it woke me up. Status quo… they can keep it. I’m much more interested in living my life, living it as an adventure rather than a task list, and really experiencing things around me — not just slogging through with “just a job” till retirement shows up.

Because to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’m going to be retiring anytime soon — probably not at all.

See, here’s the thing. I have no retirement savings. Zip – nada – zilch. I am barely keeping afloat with my everyday expenses, let alone building up some savings. Adding any money to a 401(k) or an IRA is a joke to me – I cannot afford to contribute even 1% of my earnings. Truly. So, even though much of the working world has rearranged itself to have people my age retire around age 55  (which gives me about 7 years), the simple fact is, I’m going to be working well into my 80s, maybe beyond — if I live that long.

So, the pressure is off, in terms of retirement timeline. And there’s really no reason for me to freak out over things like saving enough for retirement, paying for medication and all those other expenses that aging people accrue. Because I’m not going to stop working anytime soon. I will always have an income, doing something. And I’m fine with it.

My family members are a little horrified by the idea, but who the hell cares? They can have their retirements. They can fade into the background. They can drift away into a life of leisurely “rewards” for all the crap they’ve had to put up with, all those years.

Me? I’d rather not have to put up with the crap… be happy while I’m working (not after)… have a life I can enjoy, right here and right now… and continue to be active and engaged long into the future.

That means getting up and going. Doing. Being active. Keeping things going. And constantly re-adjusting and recalibrating as time goes on.  Not getting stuck with one set idea about How Things Should Be. It’s pointless for me to latch onto that, because it just doesn’t happen for me the way it does for others. This is not a criticism of myself, nor is it a reason for despair. This is just how things are with me – no reason to be upset or be down on myself. Just to acknowledge and adapt accordingly and really live to the max.

See, that’s the thing — everything in the world doesn’t need to be established and “perfect” and according to plan. All around me, people are so invested in the status quo, in being part of the establishment, in “playing their part” in the Big, Big World. That’s fine, but there are other things to do, and there are other ways to be, and sometimes it’s perfectly fine to be on the margins, to live the alternatives, and to walk to the edge and see what is there.

It’s like we’re all in this big boat, and most people I know are trying to stay near the center line of the boat, so it keeps its balance and it doesn’t tip over. When I am most anxious and tired and beside myself with worry, this is how I become. But there are some of us who would rather sit (or stand or climb) to the far edges of the boat, so we can have a better view. And we worry less about falling in, because we know we can swim.

I can swim. That’s for sure. And I don’t mind the edges of the boat. I don’t mind the wind in my hair, I don’t mind the mess, the spray, the salty residue that cakes on my face and hands. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Because it’s life. It’s just life. Sailing is dangerous stuff, to be sure, but I’m no good at the center of the boat. And everyone who is trying to put (and keep) me there — as much as they may mean well — is holding me back from living my life.

My family means well. Most of the people around me at work and in the community mean well. My healthcare providers mean well. They want me to be safe.

But safe is a terrible place for me to be. It’s dull and drab and it doesn’t keep me awake — literally. I’ve been hit in the head too many times — my tonic arousal (how awake my brain is) tends to be for shit, especially when I’m tired and overworked. My brain gets sleepy and it gets slow, when things are too safe and secure.

I need to be out on the edge, seeing what else is out there. I don’t need dysfunction, and I don’t need artificial drama. I need authentic, daring life that has something to offer me besides safety and security.

I need something more. Something real. Something untamed. Something leading-edge and vibrant. It’s not that I don’t want to plan my life and follow through. I don’t want some loosey-goosey flit-flitting around from one thing to the next. That’s fun, but it leads me nowhere. I need to move forward into areas that far exceed what others think or believe is possible for them — and me. I need to test waters and see what else can be done, what else can be achieved. The plans of the status quo are not for me. I need my own plans — and I’ve got them. I’m working on them. And things are coming along — not the way others envision, but the way I envision.

And with that, I’m off to start my day. We’ll see what happens. For real.

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