Stuck in a Moment?

"Rock, Hard Place" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.I’m feeling that prickly sensation of mild sunburn on my forehead and the backs of my legs. After two weeks out of the water and away from Baja, it’s good to be home. I wasn’t so sure that I’d be feeling this way though. I wasn’t sure I was going to want to come home.

I’ve not only been MIA from this blog for a while, but I’ve been feeling MIA from life a fair bit too. I’ve been struggling, depressed and lonely. I’ve been fighting with the realities of my lifestyle.

I’m pretty sure I can hear you thinking where do I get off feeling this way? Believe me, I’ve been told many times and am usually very aware that I have every reason to be content, that I live a life most people would give a few fingers for. My ex, in his eloquence, is fond of saying I’ve “got it dicked.” And I usually can convince myself that’s true and find a reason to be content, if not outright happy. But there’s something missing and so much of what is obvious from the outside looking in just masks the difficult realities of my lifestyle. To compound the problem, I feel a tremendous amount of guilt any time I feel dissatisfied. Feeling guilty about how I’m feeling does nothing to help the situation.

When I find myself in this place, I do my best not to wallow or let it drag me down into a pit of self-pity. What I do instead is gratefully acknowledge everything I have, eat right, drink less and try to figure out what fundamentally is making me feel like crap so I can fix it. The fix is always one of two things – an attitude adjustment or something external I can change. Typically the former approach is enough to turn things around, but when the depression is the result of too much partying and surfing, and not enough sleep, changing my external circumstances can work wonders. This time though the only cause I could come up with was that I had been living in isolation for eight months and needed to get out. Getting out, however, requires funds, which are in short supply (for now, she optimistically writes), so I turned to my ex who’d been asking me to come help him with a landscaping project on Maui. He’d fly me to Hawaii in exchange for help with his project, some baking and home cooked meals.

The remarkable thing is that as soon as I booked my tickets, I felt better. Instantly. Days before my scheduled departure. I woke up early, enthusiastic for what the day would bring and looking forward to what lay ahead. I thought, “!s that all it takes? Something different to look forward to?”

As the plane took off and banked North in the direction of San Francisco, I felt a elephantine weight lift and my mood shifted skyward with the plane. Less than 24 hours in San Francisco and I started to think, “Maybe I should move to California and get a real job, get involved in some kind of community work…rejoin civilization.” Yeah, I can barely believe it either.

And then, rather than laugh at myself, leave it at that unbelievable thought, and return to my unreal life, I said out loud to three well-connected people, “So if you know anyone who’s looking for someone to house sit, a writer or editor, or anything really, let me know.”

On Maui, I began the process of formulating a plan that would make my new dream come true. I even came up with a way I could have my cake and eat it too. “I’ll get a writing job that only requires that I be in the office periodically.” And there were thoughts of landing a regular house- and animal-sitting gig.

The time on the island went fast. Too fast. I kept thinking up reasons why I should stay longer. “We didn’t accomplish enough on the project.” “I should go to this writing workshop that’s scheduled on the Sunday after I’m supposed leave.” “I didn’t get to have good pizza.” “I really should go see friend X.” But I had responsibilities back home that couldn’t wait and some disturbed weather off the coast of southern Mexico suggested a tropical storm might form sooner rather than later. I kept to the original plan and promised myself I’d return to the City by the Bay this fall or winter.

The flight from Maui to San Francisco, via Portland is not short. I had plenty of time to get caught up on my reading. I’d packed my Kindle in my checked baggage by mistake, so I read the only thing I had handy – Volume 24.3 of The Surfers Journal. And as I read from front to back cover, three quotes in three separate articles resonated with me, revealing a theme that shed light on the source of my dissatisfaction.

It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re no longer part of mainstream life.”

Day after day, no matter how perfect the waves get, there is a feeling of remoteness here, a sense that the rest of the world is moving along, more engaged, more connected, and more interesting.”

I felt a pang of recognition delivered with the pointier end of a stick as I read the last one:

If every day is a holiday, there are no more holidays.”

There they were, hard, sharp, and undeniable on the page – the three main reasons I was feeling down, along with their remedies:

Isolation, remoteness, and monotony versus engaged, connected, and interesting.

I feel, often, like I am on another planet or could be, for all the interaction I have with people. The little bit I have is limited in scope and time. What I’m struggling with, bumping up against, is the need to feel connected, deeply connected, to other members of the human race and to feel engaged in some cause that benefits others. But I’m scared by what that means. Really scared. That ache-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach scared. It’s the changes I’d have to make implied by this realization that scare the living shit out of me. And then I think, “What if this feeling is something that will pass and I end up regretting it for the rest of my life?” After all, we’re talking about walking away from what, for the most part, is a pretty amazing lifestyle. Then I worry that I’m looking in the wrong place for a solution to my dissatisfaction – external conditions. Maybe I just need to “do the work” and everything will turn rosy again. Maybe, just maybe, I’m “stuck in a moment and can’t get out of it.” But the memory of the epiphany I had on that plane tells me that’s just wishful thinking. The prospect of leaving this surfers’ paradise is daunting. But if at the other end I find meaning and fulfillment, the choice seems pretty obvious. Nevertheless, I don’t know. I just don’t know. Do you?

25 thoughts on “Stuck in a Moment?

  1. Hi Dawn, I feel your pain, very eloquently stated by you. My two cents:just remember that leaving Baja does not have to be FOREVER; living in the SF Bay Area or Maui doesn’t have to mean living there forever either. You always have choices on what to do and where to go NEXT.

    You are right that your feelings of loneliness and discomfort are probably caused by what every human needs (or in your case right now, the absence of what every human needs): deep meaningful connection with another (other) human being(s). We are wired that way, we primates. Grooming and picking lice out of each other’s hair is more than just picking lice out of hair. It’s touching, intimacy, connectedness, caring, affection.

    Intimate relationships, as you no doubt know, are constantly rewarding, frustrating, pleasurable and painful. Maybe it’s time for you to get connected to another person in a more intimate relationship again… Best of luck Dawn, you are a wonderfully sensitive writer and an all around great person, from my observation.

    Eric Nordskog

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and insights Eric. I agree with everything you wrote. And I know I will always come back to Baja. It would be impossible for me to leave this place forever. It’s the first place I ever missed when I left and got truly happy and excited about returning to. But in order to find that human connection I need to spend more time elsewhere and ideally I will find a part-time gig that allows me to continue spending a fair amount of time down here. Thanks as well for the positive feedback on my writing. I means so much to me that you appreciate it.

    • Good one Georgie! Yup, that’s the thing…I find now that when I engage in a really good conversation that I almost get high from it. The stimulation is almost overwhelming. And afterwards I can “write like a motherfucker” (to quote one of my favorite authors, Cheryl Strayed, aka Dear Sugar). The inspiration is immediate. Thanks for commenting!!

  2. Hey GF,
    I read your blog with great passion, as I too have had the same feelings!!!! Changes in life are always there and always necessary for growth. Lloyd and I have always moved on when it was time. We have and are there now!!! What with Lloyd’s age, being on a budget, etc, mother’s age also and needing more company, all puts one into the where are we now and where are we going to be! It is always difficult, but nothing in life is for ever except death. You will get it worked out I know and we will talk.

    • Oh Marti! You read my stuff with passion? I LOVE that!! High praise indeed and, well, frankly, I’m envious of your passion (nod nod wink wink). Thank you so much for letting me know. It’s funny, I’m always saying how I’m not afraid of change, but this necessity has really stood that one on its head. I’m taking a look at that and am, frankly, a little caught off guard. So much for fearless Dawn. Yes, let’s talk. Soon. Love you!

  3. Dawn, I think I understand–in my own limited way. I am always craving alone time–time to just do what i want to do–reading, writing, chilling, being by myself. But the minute I get more than two hours I start to get antsy. Humans are just weird.

    • So now imagine you are on a desert island – just you a nice house, the beach, six dogs and an illiterate caretaker. No phones, no television, yes, you have XM radio and internet, but that’s it. And you have dinner with the people down the road a couple of times a month. Now you’re getting the picture. I also have to admit, that some of my isolation is self-imposed. I don’t socialize as much as I could because after surfing all morning I always feel like I need to work all afternoon. I need to give myself permission to socialize more often, but in the end it’s about numbers. There just aren’t that many people around here to socialize with, especially in summer. Does that help fill in some of the blanks? Thanks for commenting!

      • Hi Dawn…as I sit here relishing in the fact my Chemo is DONE and my return to Baja may be just around the corner, I realize I am going back to that isolation I imposed on myself after Bob’s death. Now, coming through the Cancer (Ihope, I hope), I see that I have to find my Life again and I am quite honestly trying to figure out how to do just that. So reading your story…put so well….I see others, more than I would have realized are in the same quandry. I know it won’t be easy, I don’t have your youth to draw from anymore….but I will have to attempt to see Life in a much different manner…..won’t be easy, my relationship with Bob those last 10 years in Baja was the strength I drew from and I will never have that again…and oh how I miss it. So Miss Dawn, we both have a quest here and Good Luck to us. In the meantime, Smile and keep catching those waves.

      • Oh Carmen! I can only try to imagine what you are feeling. After so many years together, you must feel his absence like a hole the size of the Grand Canyon. I am SO thrilled that the chemo is done and you are on your way back to HEALTH. But if, as it has become for me, the isolation becomes too much for you, you always have the option to leave as well. Your a very strong woman. Do whatever it is YOU need to do to be happy.

      • I can tell you that it would be too isolated for me, but maybe it’s because I’m used to things being TOO fast-paced, etc.

  4. turn to your savior , ask for forgiveness for your sins , give thanks your even here , love animals , take good care of yourself . praise God all day long— radiate his love—and you will be fine!

  5. I’ve always experienced you as a “people person.” When we first met, I was drawn to your engaging personality, your smile, your warmth. I, too, love to be alone, but I also want, need, and crave human interaction. I think that’s just the nature of the beast (being human, that is). Remember that nothing is forever, nothing is irreversible. You can always go back. You can always choose something new. And change, I’ve found, makes you look at everything differently. Sometimes we need to shake things up to find out what really matters most in our lives. XO

    • Thank you for your kind words Katrina and your understanding. And yes, you are sooo right, if one thing doesn’t work, I can always do something else. Life is one big oyster and somewhere among all this goo I’ll find my pearl.

  6. Dawn, It’s nice to know you got home safely.. Did you miss the wild weather or is it still stormy in the Baja.?  Spirituality is a state of consciousness.. Love you… Clifford H. Cross II LOVE~>°°°~LIFE

    >________________________________ > From: Dawn Revealed >To: >Sent: Thursday, September 5, 2013 3:47 PM >Subject: [New post] Stuck in a Moment? > > > > >Dawn Pier posted: “I’m feeling that prickly sensation of mild sunburn on my forehead and the backs of my legs. After two weeks out of the water and away from Baja, it’s good to be home. I wasn’t so sure that I’d be feeling this way though. I wasn’t sure I was going to want ” >

    • Yes, made it back in time for Lorena, but I’ve run away again and am hiding out at points North of my usual spot and we only got a big rain storm yesterday evening. It was incredible! I was in the water at the time and a small pod of dolphins went by as a big bolt of lightning zinged down from the huge thunder head off in the distance. Pretty special. And yes, trying to stay in that state of awakened witnessing.

  7. Dawn. You have so much talent and energy that if u feel it is time for change go for it. You would do really well orginizing events for charities or schools etc. What about selling real estate in the USA? I think you do need to make changes in your life now before it is too late. I wish I had never left the horse business. I regret it very much. It was something I was really good at and loved. Get out there and find your dream and make it happen. Maybe you are living your dream now but you are lonely? Whatever it takes get into it.

    • Thank you Terry for the encouragement! I hear you about regrets…and very sorry that you feel that way. I would like to live this life without having too many of them. I’m working on making my new dream a reality…more on that in future posts!

  8. I read your post and wanted to write you something clever and insightful, but I just saw this quote on surfline and it kind of stole my thunder: “the next time you’re feeling bummed out, just think about diarrhea. Remember how miserable you were last time you had it during a long trip: the agony, the cramping, the embarrassing sprints to the toilet… Then consider your current situation and say “I don’t have diarrhea today. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all”.

  9. Pingback: The Real Dawn Revealed | Dawn Revealed

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