UFM 31: The Question at the End of the Challenge

I spent nothing today. Which was probably good because I filled the fridge with delicious food and drink yesterday, no thought to what I already had in the cupboards and no thought to the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables. With the help of friends, I made a delicious dinner last night and enjoyed everything thoroughly. Yes, I spent plenty on food and drinks, but I also successfully had fun with friends in the comfort of our own apartment, a thing which should not seem so remarkable, but is! And we had more fun than it would have been possible to have in a restaurant (my experience of working in restaurants is that the staff doesn’t like it when you fall over with laughter or shout bizarre phrases, both of which happened.

Saturday was my man’s and my anniversary. We went snorkeling and ate a fancy dinner. We agreed that it had been a good year. A weird year, a challenging year, a fun year.

But overall for the month, I spent $400 more than I earned. Am I surprised? Not really. To be honest, I feel pretty good that it wasn’t more given all the reasons/excuses/life events that happened. There were a number of not-quite-goodbye-yet dinners and drinks. There were a few moving expenses and travel expenses to cover.

There were also successes. I changed my own oil for the first time. I got rid of a lot of stuff (not so much related to the frugal challenge, but I think there’s a connection to explore here). I rode my bike more than I have in months. I learned a bit about coding and a bit about podcasting. I ate things in our cupboards I would have never thought we could finish.

That said, it feels a bit as though I took on this challenge as a way to avoid thinking about what else was happening in my life: leaving my job, getting ready for a big move, a big trip, a lot of uncertainty and some big expenses. Focusing on avoiding cocktails and clocking miles was a way not to think about the big things coming. I can feel it happening still, thinking about what I can do in August as a “challenge,” an excuse not to think about what’s happening right in front of me.

I suppose the real challenge would be to do… nothing. To just let myself move. To clean and pack and travel and be wherever I am (San Diego, Santa Fe, Rochester, Barcelona) without trying to avoid the present.

This seems like a non sequitur but it’ll come back around: While we were snorkeling yesterday, I kept popping up to look for where our guide and the rest of the group was. We were always behind, and our guide was often gesturing to us to catch up. It made me anxious for probably half the tour: trying to stay with everyone else, getting used to the strange feeling of flippers, breathing underwater and getting salt water up my nose (I am a bad snorkeler by the way).

Finally, I just asked myself, “why am I so worried about being up there when I’m right here?” We’d already paid for the tour, we were in a safe place, there was no reason I needed to be up ahead instead of where I was. So I just stopped. I let myself float, deadman style, with my face in the water, looking at the patterns in the sand. I saw a lobster.

That’s the question I’m asking myself tonight. Why do I need to be somewhere else besides where I am right now? I don’t need another challenge to distract myself from the loss and the uncertainty of what’s coming, anymore than I need a fancy meal or a new dress. Have I been filling my time with goals and challenges and aspirations as a way to avoid being present?

(The answer is probably yes, but it’s worth exploring further in another post.)

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s