I guess I never realized that whales get very little sleep, but I probably should have. I mean, when you're surrounded by salty fluid that could literally suffocate you if too much of it enters your lungs, you kinda have to stay moving and alert at all times to keep from drowning.
Which is a good way of describing my life at the moment. In exactly two months, the main reasons I have spent the past three years in Kenya will be moot. Done. Finito. No more support from afar, in the form of wire transfers and "organizational identity." If I stick around in East Africa beyond that time, it'll be under my own banner. Fueled by "Pure Princess Rachella Power"--that same Teflon-plated will, determination, and utterly naive, borderline reckless ability to step out on Faith with absolutely no visible means of support.
Of course, I'd be rather coy if I didn't also mention that at about that exact same point in time, I will turn 50 years old. Which prolly makes me a bit of a chump to be using a big-assed WHALE as the imagery for this particular turning point in my life! But I realized it was actually the perfect metaphor earlier this week, when my "Daily Om" email message landed in my AOL inbox. The title of that day's inspirational message was "Spirit of the Sea," and it offered the analogy of whales and their underwater existence to transmit a powerful message to me:
"It is through the vibrations of their unique sound that they release ancient wisdom to us. At the same time, their sound carries across such great distances that whales can enter the realm of the future where they can acquire knowledge of what is to come.
"Every whale sings a song, and they never repeat the same pattern when they sing their song. Since whales must be conscious at all times in order to breathe, they cannot afford to fall into an unconscious state for too long. Never completely asleep, their brain has constant access to the collective unconscious where all answers lie. Whales float peacefully, secure in the ocean environment that supports and sustains them."
I guess middle-aged female whales never struggle with menopause, because the cool depths of the ocean must help regulate their body temperatures. DAMN, that sounds fantastic!! Anyway, I totally grooved to the imagery of having constant access to the collective unconscious where all of Life's answers lie. I visualized myself floating peacefully and secure, knowing that my environment would support me and sustain me.
And then I ran the financial numbers and realized that I will be utterly screwed and homeless in no time flat unless I find another job immediately.
But once that temporary freak-out subsided, I went back to "The Whale Place" in my mind. I recalled two other times in the past five years alone when I was told that one job was about to end, and when I walked out the door or hung up the phone and literally articulated that "When one door closes, another one opens."
Without having the slightest idea of what I would do next, both times I just held my nose and stepped off the sheer side of Life's cliff. I did it for the right reasons, I think, because I knew I wanted to keep myself available to do work that mattered, and that would make a difference. And I'm visualizing myself remaining in East Africa a while longer for the same reasons.
But sometimes, I get so down-to-the-bone tired of being constantly on the move like whales. And I could definitely relate to the non-sleeping analogy, because I've battled insomnia over the past decade. I literally cannot remember the last time I slept through an entire night. And when I do wake up in those wee, dark hours, my brain is usually racing. I'm thinking of all the stuff I need to do, should have done, WILL do, can't do, don't want to do, etc.
Whales might be pretty chill about that kind of lifestyle, but it takes a toll on middle-aged humans. I was talking with another female expat last week about this same thing. She's single, never married, about my age, and committed to being here at least another year, but she has an apartment in New York that she would LOVE to go back and settle into.
We both nailed down the biggest hardship of this life we've chosen: the lack of visible support. The cordial, casual, occasional networks we access when we get so bored we think we'll go completely batshit loopy, but the lack of soul-deep, heart-strung connections. We both concluded that the ONLY thing that would keep us here permanently would be to find "The One," but then we also admitted that we'd have just about as much chance of finding him here as we'd have back home. Which wasn't MUCH of a chance, by the way, but at least over there, we'd have our friends, family and other comforts of home.
So. We keep swimming into the breach, like the aforementioned whales, with no other choice but to keep moving, making a few spectacular leaps every now and then, but mostly just hoping we'll access this alleged submerged, subconscious wisdom that will make it all make sense. I hope I'll be here doing great work for the next few years, but at this very second, I have no idea what I'll be doing next month.
It's a whale of a life, but it's the only one I've got.