Recently I overheard a woman say “Do you ever just think…’Is this it? Day in, day out…this is it?‘”
It wasn’t especially a positive comment, but it stuck in my head, especially as the woman she was talking to seemed to agree with her. I’ve been reflecting on the very different ways the phrase “Is this it?” could be taken.
For them, I believe, “it” applied to the steady state of their lives. For me, though, that’s been something I’ve been searching for – a steady state. “It”, for me, is a state of mind where I feel at home, where I feel that I can relax into my own body, my own sense of self, my own values, and feel like I belong.
I’ve not found it yet – or at least, I’ve not let myself find it (I have some friends who would tell me “And you won’t, Gray, as long as this is the story you keep telling yourself.”) So for me, the emphasis comes more on the middle word of the question, as I go from place to place:
“Is this it? No? Ok…is this it?”
…much in the way the little bird went around asking “Are you my mother?” in the classic Dr. Seuss book.
Fall Down Once, Get Up Twice
Once I find a place that seems a likely home, though, the emphasis in the question changes yet again. I’ve found an instance of this, now the question is, does it fit the image of it that I have in my mind?
What is it? I outlined my particular it above, and while it may seem trite and simplistic, I gotta tell you, I have sacrificed more than I care to share in order to arrive at just that realization. And the realization that I’d rather die looking for it than having settled for less than it.
But the fact is, my it is not everyone’s. If it were, the world would be a much simpler, if less beautifully complex, place. Think about it: what does that mean to you? If you’re not sure, how will you find it? Look around you, as the woman did: “Is this it?” I can’t answer for her, nor can I for you, and maybe it’s not worth contemplating, because if it‘s not…then what are you going to do?
Let’s leave that alone. Instead, let’s assume that you have decided that your particular this is it.
It doesn’t end there.
The Mouse Blender
One of my housemates was talking with me about the many little voices that often crowd our minds, and I related a technique I’d heard of where you assign each voice to a little mouse, and put each one in a little glass jar with a knob on the base…
“Oh no!” she said, eyes going wide with horror. “You’re going to blend them?!?”
“Um, no,” I said. “Actually, the idea was that it’s a volume knob, and you slowly turn down each voice until it is silent.” I thought about it a while, and smiled. “I like your solution better, though.”
One of those little mice – who is both blender and volume-knob resistant – has the job to keep popping up and putting the final emphasis on the question: Is this it? Really, day in, day out – sure, you said this was it, but is it?
It’s a pesky mouse. If you’re lucky, I believe, you simply say “Yup!” and turn the volume knob down. Or to frappÃ©, depending on your metaphor of preference.
Changing the Question
Of course, in my dreams, it is no longer a question. The goal is to reach a point where I am so centered in my it that the question mark straightens out into an exclamation point. Then I can enjoy changing the order of words, ever so slightly, and every change of emphasis becomes a different expression of joy:
This is it.
This is it.
This is it.
Like most things I write about in this blog, I’m not saying any of this is easy. The whole issue of it can cause sleepless knights, irritable vowel syndrome, and fearing loss. It’s taken me literally across the U.S. with occasional forays into Europe, and I’m still not sure that it isn’t actually in Berlin.
But for now, I’m trying the this in Seattle. It seems to be going pretty well so far.
How’s it goin’ with you?