“I quit!” is a liberating pronouncement often followed by walking away, slamming a door, hanging up the phone, packing a suitcase, writing a letter, driving away, or signing a document. Just after this utterance, one can almost hear the clanking of chains falling to the floor while rubbing wrists for relief as the wings of possibility begin to grow and lift you far from where you’ve been. It’s only when you’re a few feet from where you’ve been for such a long time that you can’t remember anything else, that you weaken and collapse to the floor. Quitting feels good only briefly and then the reality sets in and you realize that if you do indeed quit, you might have to reinvent and reinvest yourself. You might have to start all over. It’s true that you can continue to quit time and again your entire life and never come around to yourself and real freedom. But it’s my belief that each time we quit, we turn the corner and bump into ourselves going the other way. Whether we say, “excuse me” and keep going or say, “oh, hell, let’s go out for coffee (or something stronger),” will determine the outcome of quitting. I personally think quitting is good, even when I’ve gone around the corner and punched myself in the stomach and then kept going. In a sense, I wanted to leave myself behind, climb out of my skin, and be unshackled by the present. And even if I kept going without some of myself, it was only temporary, for after the punch in the gut, I realized I wanted self-preservation. That is, I wanted to be all of me and live with flourish and abundance. Quitting is good for getting out of unhealthy situations and also for getting out of healthy situations. We all know why we should do one, but why the other? I don’t know for sure, just that sometimes it has to be. Perhaps it’s a season, a chance, to face the fear of failure, to wrestle with ancestral traits, to pause long enough to catch up with success, to get at the hub or the still point, as well as the bullshit and arrogance. To stop and see if we can distill the essence of what we’re quitting and learn whether it’s worth going back to.
Yesterday, I quit. And the punch in the stomach made me keel over. It felt like hell. It was a fast walk around that corner away from myself and onto a trail in the woods. The wind was playing some kind of song that made nature dance with grace and lightness. Queen Anne’s lace, monarchs, tiger swallowtails, a Cooper’s hawk soaring, and the leaves of beech, aspen, maple, and birch shimmered and fluttered before me in harmonic unison that beckoned me to watch and listen.. It’s not working, I declared silently, feeling the emptiness of quitting and the pain of the punch. Was this a performance just for me? Soon, I realized that it certainly was for the me that quit and the me I bumped into and hit in the stomach after quitting. But it wasn’t only for me or for the me coming around the corner. It was for the other, the spirit, the creator, whomever, the one who is on the inside and outside of the insular and sometimes selfish, trapped me. The one who picks me up and puts all of me back together so I can pick up my instrument, my feet, my pen, and be a part of the performance again. “It’s not only about me!”
I’m writing this blog trying to keep away the disharmony of whining that can occur so readily with soul searching. I want to write candidly, but keep private, my life, as well as offer something of worth to whomever reads this. As I was writing, I thought of a poem I’ve always treasured, but find a little fault with in regards to the “Him.” I forgive the author, for he has captured the essence of that mysterious One that I do believe in, both the “Him” and the “Her.” So here is the first stanza of this very long poem, but please read the rest of it if it touches a chord:
The Hound of Heaven
~ Francis Thompson (1859 – 1907)
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated, down Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat_and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet_
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’