I can’t see the rut until I pop out of it.
I mean, I can feel it, for sure. Squeezing my sides, keeping me straight, tracking dead ahead. And I know I’m in it, of course, because the walls look the same. Same cycles, same routines, same thought patterns. I’m sinking in it. It’s eating me up.
But from down here I can’t plan another route, first I gotta take a little leap, a little hop.
Then I tense. Do I have to? Is it really time to shake things up? It’s so much easier when I’m happy in the rut. Ruts are safe.
I suddenly realize I’m scared of so much. Scared of getting off course, off schedule, off track. Scared of other ruts, deeper ruts, pits that I’ve been in before. Injury, illness, depression, heartache. Those things leave a mark, no matter how far they fade. They keep you cautious. When you find a track around them, you tend to stick to it.
My course…staying balanced. Dialing in self care. Eat well, sleep well, train well. No sudden movements. A discipline decades in the making.
But when will I be strong enough…to say…hop over here? To work a different day of the week, to meet friends after, to kick the ball around, dance in the street a little.
What if I get up a little earlier, surf the morning instead of the night? What vast, different worlds might be just an inch to the left of mine. A flock of new friends, perhaps, living their own narrow, parallel lives.
Just a small hop, the next rut over. A universe of single tracks.
My anxiety flutters, glancing around nervously, dangers everywhere. Don’t stay out too late. Don’t socialize too much. Don’t lose yourself.
My strict self care carries threads of fear. Cutting loose is not fun if I think it might hurt me, might send me to a pit. Pits leave a mark. Ruts are safe.
So I start slow. I’m careful with my play. Balanced play. Right people, right games. Sunset kickball in the field, my body loosens. Water and real-talk at the bar, my heart opens. Dancing and hugs in the street, I’m laughing. Then I drive home happy, for a good dinner and a good night’s sleep.
This is self care too.
Still on track, just a wider road.