Night Driving by John Coy, illustrated by Peter McCarty

I’m prone to bouts of forgetfulness.

If I had a fight with someone, I’ll forget what it was a few days later. Major ones take a few weeks, but then I rarely have those sort of arguments anyway.

I’d forget about where I put things when I was younger, and I would be so frustrated with myself that I came up with a system to make sure that it didn’t happen again. I’d mentally take a snapshot of when I do certain things so that I can revisit them in my conscious archives to see where things were. I also wrote things down in a list. “Moved diary to first left drawer on the right – check there”. I’d label things I couldn’t see through – boxes, envelopes, etc., just so I wouldn’t lose sight of what was in them; even if they were literally out of sight.

I’d forget if I locked my car, or if I left the gate open (every dog owner’s nightmare) – so I double check every time. Having certain rituals and being in the present when I’m locking the gate or being aware of my actions as I twist the key to lock the car helps tremendously in reducing the panic attacks that come with the sudden realization of things I might have forgotten to do. Stuff that when forgotten, leads me to imagine bad stuff happening that would leave me worked up, time and time again, which then leads me to ask myself why I let myself do this to myself… yet AGAIN.

And yet, with all these tactical action plans to keep myself in check, something managed to slip through the cracks. A big one too. Sometime between November and January, I forgot about where I’m heading, why I’m here and what I’m supposed to do next.

With things that happen on a daily basis, it’s too easy to fall into a pattern. Life moves along at breakneck speed, especially when you’re just a passenger strapped on for the ride. Somehow between that time, my grip on the driver’s wheel loosened and instead of eyeing the road ahead, I found myself curled up, peering out the side window instead of navigating my journey.

It was scary. It was as though I was in a bit of a haze, with short-term amnesia in a land where everyone knew my name and my purpose but me. Apparently a bout of viral fever, stomach flu, coupled with a succession of flu hits does that to the mind and body; in addition to time tending to family obligations and lack of rest. What a way to ring in the new year!

But then I slowly began to pick up the pieces.

It started with a Skype interview for SmArt Mouth Creatives by Cotey Bucket (here’s the iTunes version). During a mock rehearsal that I orchestrated a day before the interview (everyone does this right?) I began to remember things about myself that I had seemingly forgotten. In the end, doing the podcast and being interviewed was fun, cathartic, and like any good therapy, it left me exhausted but thrilled at my own progress. We talked about how Pikaland began, and what drove Work/Art/Play (my online class that was held in September last year – Cotey was one of the students I worked with).

That same week, I was also scheduled to meet two local writers who were looking to interview me for my work at Pikaland. It was the first time that I was going to be covered in depth at a local level and I was a little nervous. My stomach does a little flip each time I get recognized at an event. I get embarrassed easily, not knowing what to do with the attention – although it’s always fun in the end, and I forget all about my anxiety soon after (I’m forgetful, remember? It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time).

So I sat down with them and they were curious about everything I did. I answered questions from how it all began, what the blog meant to me, what my goal was – everything that I thought my mind had blocked out came back to me in a torrential swoosh. We talked for almost 3 hours, locked in a dialogue that felt like a reset on my brain. The more I talked, the haze that blurred my vision slowly dissipated; and when it lifted, I could see clearly the road that was in front of me all along.

It turns out that I left my car on auto-drive while I sat at the passenger seat and took a long nap.

No longer.

My hands are firmly on the wheel, and I’m ready to go, baby*.

*Baby is what I fondly call my 15-year old car.

SHARE YOUR STORY:

Where are you at right now? Are you a passenger in a moving car or are you manning your own chariot? Have you ever felt lost in your journey? What did you do to get through it? I’d love to hear your personal stories and/or advice!

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[Illustration above: Night Driving by John Coy, illustrated by Peter McCarty]
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8 comments

  1. Amy J says:

    Like you mentioned in the article about sickness, I’ve had a severe flare up of my illness over Christmas and New Year and have had a big dent in my confidence. Not good when I’ve got a paid internship interview in 2 days… At the moment, I’m practising answering questions they might ask me and I’m struggling to remember who I am and why I’m different!

    I’m hoping it’ll work out in the end and when I sit down with the head of design on Friday, I’ll remember all the good stuff about myself and how I can fit into the company… but at the moment I’m a passenger and I do feel a bit lost :( looking forward to reading more comments to see how people get out of this funk.

  2. This sounds quite familiar, and I think it has to do with having the nose too close to the object. Details are important, but you forget what the whole thing looks like.

    I started the year with a breakfast meeting with myself, followed by a lunch meeting with myself, and enjoyed (like you did in your interviews) stepping back from the detail and looking at the whole. It all feels a lot less crazy when you do that, cos all the bits have their place, instead of just being bits you try to hold in place.

    Thanks, as always, for your lovely stories and the thoughts they inspire.
    xx

    • amy says:

      That’s a great idea Heather – I’m all up for meetings (especially if they’re with myself, LOL!) But you’re right about having an eye too close to the details as opposed to looking at the big picture. I felt that my eyes were stuck on the board! It feels good to release myself. :)

  3. Hi-five! I am frequently (and some say, perpetually) forgetful, like cursed with a pregnesia that never went away, though technically, my absentmindedness was apparent even in my teenhood, defo wayyyy before I had kids. Forgetting where we’re going is easy especially with the tons of things we need to do, along with another ton of things we think we need to do… I find it most useful to spend the morning not snoozing in but having a quiet time reflecting, and being in the present, and realigning my bearings sometimes, if needs be. A short morning ritual can mean loads in setting the tone right for the day (even week!), the priorities I choose to undertake, and the way I solve the problems that crop up in the day ☆ aaand of course, talking it out with a likeminded (in values, not the absentminded bit) buddy almost always works as well too.

  4. Jess says:

    Good to remember at this planning time of year… I love Heather’s breakfast and lunch planning dates with herself – I need to do that! I’ve been trying to step back and look at the whole picture, then translate it across many diaries/calendars and planners in the studio, so wherever I turn there is a reminder. Hopefully they stick!

    Also… love the car illustration Amy! Now I’m off to listen to your online interview.

  5. Wow Amy,
    I’m honored to know that I could be such a help to someone I so greatly admire.
    The funny thing is, I was in very much the same situation, and that interview with you, was part of my way of jumping back into that preverbal drivers seat.
    I thought for a while that I knew exactly where I was going but then, after quitting my job, moving back to portland, and living in my car while trying to stay sane and restart almost everything in my life, I totally lost my way.
    How cool that the single act of having that conversation did so much to remind us both of where we were going.
    Thanks again for all that you do :D

  6. Helen mbabazi says:

    Having been on the bus for close to 18 hours since yesterday morning i feel abit dazed although am at work. What you mention is very familiar and most especially the panic attacks after realising that i have forgotten what i had so carefully planned to say and where i put an important contact.

    But all this usuallly makes me realise how tired i am and i get to sit down and ask my self if it is worth it losing my self. So i take my self out for an evening, play with my kids, eat some cake or buy my self some nice wine. When i do the things i love to do, i stay in check knowing that i am still here even when i cant remember some important stuff.

    Thanks Amy

  7. Dana says:

    Driving your own chariot, like driving a car (responsibly), requires concentration and focus. I enjoy being the driver most of the time, but I get a little burned out occasionally. Being more aware of my ups and downs, I set a goal for 2014 (well, for today) of BALANCE. Sometimes I choose to ride in the passenger seat for a while to refuel:)

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