The Elephant and the Rider

Well, school has been back in session for a couple of weeks now, and the pain and fatigue are back with a vengeance. My leg muscles are sore and cramping every night after work, and I can’t seem to get enough sleep.

Recently, I wrote that my husband and I had started talking about going to live in Oregon on his mother’s tree farm, but now he is having reservations and worries that we’ll just end up destitute. There aren’t many jobs in that area, and it wouldn’t make sense for me to move when I’ve invested so much in the Texas Teacher Retirement System. I need to wait another eleven or twelve years to retire. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll make it that long though. I love my husband very much, but he’s restless and sways back and forth on his plans as much as a reed in a thunderstorm. It drives me crazy!

Johnathan Haidt wrote in his book The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom that our emotional desires are akin to an elephant while our reasoning conscious self is the rider on the elephant. I feel that most of my life, my rider has been strong and has steered my elephant pretty well, but now as I get older and my body falls apart, my emotions (mainly fear) are getting the best of me and are steering me toward irrational decisions. I was thinking that it was my fear that was keeping me here in Texas instead of exploring other options for my future, but perhaps it is my fear of  putting more wear and tear on my body and shortening my lifespan that has me wanting to escape to the northwest which may actually be the more reckless choice.

I’m not sure what we should do, so I’m just going to take it a day at a time, pray about it, and work on getting my priorities straight. Some ideas that I’ve gathered from my reading lately that I need to keep in mind are that I need to be in charge of my emotions (see above reference), that I need to cut out what’s not important in my life and keep it simple, asking myself if the things I am taking on fulfill God’s purpose for me (What on Earth Am I Here for by Rick Warren), and it’s important to avoid a “mass crowd” which disturbs our inner peace (Seneca). (This can mean physically as well as digitally as William Powers points out in Hamlet’s Blackberry.) Seneca also wrote that the constant desire to travel comes from wanting to run away from ourselves and our worries, but this is pointless since we carry our burdens with us wherever we go. If I were to run off to Oregon with my husband, we would not just have our current burdens but we would probably add to them as well. Hopefully, I can keep these ideas in mind going forward.

Well, it’s 8:40 on a school night. Time to get some sleep. Good night.

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