What is it about the nature of being human that allows us to check out mentally? You know what I mean, that way that we can walk through life, just going through the motions, looking alive but not really being alive. When did we buy into the belief system that we aren’t co-creators or writers of our own stories?
I was visiting with some friends this week, and I was struck by the lack of control that they feel in their lives. I know that there is truth to the tale that we get caught on the “rat wheel” of life and don’t know how, or don’t have the courage, to jump off when it is in motion. But really, we can jump off. I think it is on that wheel that we begin to sleepwalk through our lives. The scenery never really changes, there on the old rat wheel…our views are limited, our creative lives are limited, and so on. I think that the sleepwalking must be a protective thing that happens to numb us to all that we are missing there on the wheel.
I wonder if sleepwalking is exclusive to humans or if animals feel the same. Recently at my parents’ home I met their new family member. Her name is Ellie and she is a cat. Now Ellie certainly didn’t seem like she was sleepwalking through life; she was totally engaged, and it was contagious. She managed to drag all of us in with her, including the other resident of the house—Miss Muppet, my mom’s indoor bunny. (Don’t ask.) Miss Muppet has been a little shy and stagnant on my previous visits, which is the way that I like bunnies since they, being rodents, fall into the category of things I can do without. So, having her a little lackluster has worked just fine for me. But now with the new “ball of energy” in the house, Miss Muppet seems to have gotten off her rat wheel and is enjoying the new view. On my last visit, She was more mobile than I had ever seen her. She seemed to see life through a new lens…same environment, just new challenges.
I have certainly had my moments of sleepwalking through life. I look back over time and wish I were a much more “awake” parent when the kids were little. I wish that I believed those older moms who told me how quickly it all would pass by. I didn’t at the time, but now what I wouldn’t give… But, I am also happy to report that I have had my moments of jumping off the wheel only to discover that there was in fact life off the wheel…one that was and is bigger and richer than I could have ever dreamed.
I don’t want to live life going through the motions of someone else’s script for my life, or even a limited script that I have written for myself. Don’t listen to those old tapes that we all have playing in our heads—the ones that keep us on the wheel, afraid to fail or be judged…or worse, to succeed. Life always has distractions, and I am learning to be more purposeful in life. I’m learning to be more willing to not just dream, but to live the dream. I’m not allowing myself to get attached to “whatever the outcome”, I’m just throwing it out there and seeing what life has.
So whether sleepwalking is uniquely human or it is something that all living things must push through, I am taking a page from Ellie and have decided that going through the motions doesn’t work for me either….