Helpless Wondering

I’m almost ready for spring. The win­ter isn’t get­ting on my nerves quite yet. The only thing I miss right now is being able to dri­ve com­fort­ably with­out a heavy coat on.

I’ve been feel­ing ter­ri­bly help­less late­ly. There are so many things in my life that are out of my con­trol — health, love, mon­ey, work — that I’ve actu­al­ly con­sid­ered doing a thought record for the first time since I fin­ished ther­a­py. Last week I woke up chok­ing in the mid­dle of the night. Then half way through the day I start­ed devel­op­ing mod­er­ate chest pains. I try not to wor­ry when I’m awake, but at night, in my sleep, every­thing comes out. Maybe every­thing is start­ing to get to me.

I want things to hap­pen quick­ly. I’m impa­tient. I want to be proac­tive, but there’s not much I can do. Verse 42 of the Tao Te Ching has been speak­ing to me:

Who knows what fate may bring —
  one day your loss may be your for­tune
  one day your for­tune may be your loss

While I usu­al­ly crave the flux between con­stan­cy and change, I pre­fer it in one thing at a time. It feels like I’m going through anoth­er tran­si­tion peri­od. Nothing around me is set­tled.

All I can do is wait to see where I end up.


  1. It may be one of those things you’ve heard a thou­sand and one times, but from where I stand and from what I do in times like this, all you need is a friend. It does­n’t mat­ter who or what, but some­one you can relate and share with on a per­son­al lev­el and let it all out the way you should. In a way, that’s what I always thought ther­a­pists are for, that you pay some­one to tell you your prob­lems. Me, I’d let some­one buy me a drink and have them lis­ten to my prob­lems. Since I can’t do that any­more. Whoever is online at the time is a suit­able enough dis­trac­tion.

    I hate the times when all you can do is wait. It’s not that we don’t have a solu­tion to our prob­lems. It’s that our solu­tion involves wait­ing for the right moment to tie up the loose ends. It’s why I geek out ever so often. Lose myself in my hunger for the things I want. If there is no friend in sight, this is the clos­est thing to doing some­thing about it, rather than the long ardu­ous wait.

    • You’re absolute­ly right on need­ing a friend. I’ve been away from my friends for a while, as they’ve been busy with oth­er things. It’s worn me down, and I was think­ing of writ­ing about it in this post actu­al­ly. I miss hav­ing some­one to lis­ten, some­one with an ear to whom to share my prob­lems. The only dis­trac­tion I have right now are my games, and with­out any social inter­ac­tion, it leaves me mighty lone­ly.

      The con­cept of act­ing when the time is right is also com­mon in Taoism. There was a pas­sage from verse 8 that I was think­ing of using instead:

      When act­ing, remem­ber — tim­ing is every­thing
      One who lives in accor­dance with nature does not go against the way of things
      He moves in har­mo­ny with the present moment always know­ing the truth of just what to do

      I’m so glad you often read and com­mis­er­ate with me. Even though I bare­ly know you, it’s like we’re the same per­son, deal­ing with a dark past and mak­ing the best of what we have now. It helps immea­sur­ably to know that I’m not alone in feel­ing the way I do.

  2. You can always write me. Although I have my own demons, I hear from peo­ple that I often help them con­sid­er­ably. On the oth­er hand, it’s all up to who you feel com­fort­able with, and no one will replace John, I’m sure.

    • I think it’s peo­ple who have their own demons that makes them bet­ter lis­ten­ers. They’re the only ones who can real­ly under­stand.

      I’m won­der­ing myself if any­one will ever replace John. Even though I doubt it, I’m hop­ing that it’s pos­si­ble (though not nec­es­sary).

  3. Jeff, I don’t know why I’m so drawn to your site. This is the third time I’ve checked in and I real­ly like it.

    Regarding your post, I think the world is feel­ing pret­ty help­less right now. And your quote from the Tao Te Ching is very apt — I was just think­ing some­thing sim­i­lar last night. The beau­ty in life is nev­er know­ing what will hap­pen next. Today you might be griev­ing a bro­ken rela­tion­ship, tomor­row you may start falling in love again. Having this intel­lec­tu­al knowl­edge does­n’t quell the emo­tion­al upheaval, how­ev­er, and I per­son­al­ly have a hard time let­ting even my close friends into my grief. I tend to “hole up” when I’m sad or emo­tion­al and cut off my friends…which only makes the ennui hang on longer I think. It cer­tain­ly helps me to know I’m not alone in these feel­ings, so thank you for that.

    • The fact that intel­lec­tu­al knowl­edge does­n’t quell our emo­tion­al upheavals is com­plete­ly true. I liken it to being sad­dened by the death of a friend. Even though one may know that death is part of life, and that there’s noth­ing that can be done about it, that does­n’t make it any eas­i­er.

      Maybe there should be an online com­mu­ni­ty for peo­ple going through these feel­ings, for com­mis­er­a­tion if not for the schaden­freude.

  4. First thought on chest pains? Getting them any­time is hard to screen out. Getting them dur­ing pan­ic attacks, now that’s a trip. For me it’s an over­com­pen­sat­ing mus­cle pack­age. I’m stoop­ing, hunch­ing, hold­ing my back tight until my chest mus­cles start to Charlie Horse. There are stretch­es with arm out to the side 90 degree elbow that pull those mus­cles from cramps.

    May not be the same thing at all. But if it ever is,.. and when in doubt…stretch out.

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