When you find yourself becoming restless for no apparent good reason, it usually means it's time for a change. It might be big, it might be small, but there's a burr under your saddle and you're not going to have any peace until you root it out.
There's a big, itchy burr under my saddle right now. The easy part (this time, at least) is knowing what to change, what to get rid of; how to do it and what to replace it with is harder. It's a big puzzle, and I feel like pieces are being delivered to me, but sometimes just one at a time. It's a leap of faith to place that piece where you think it goes, and trust that the next step will appear when you need it.
That's what I am trying to do right now. One of the puzzle pieces that has fallen into place is the one that says it's time to get rid of toxic people in my life. Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but toxic people can be very insidious, and sometimes they are linked to you in such a way that the only way to get rid of them is to make drastic changes --- like switching jobs, or moving. And sometimes they are going to be there, no matter what, and all you can do is minimize contact.
Happily for me, there isn't a long list of Toxins to deal with; but lately I've come to realize even a little bit of poison can add up and make you sick. One of the ways I've decided to stop up some of the toxic waste is by refusing to engage with nasty people.
Nasty people, in real life or on the internet (where they are legion), get a kick out of infecting others with their own unhappiness. They don't see it that way, of course --- it's just part of a big game to them, not to let anyone else "score" against them, and one way they can do that is by scoring, or hurting, first. They're also eager to escalate, because they are consumed by not letting anyone get the better of them. They must not lose, at any cost, because deep down under all the bravado and posturing, that is what they fear the most. They fear that they really are losers. Another part of their sickness is that they hate to see anybody else win, so they will do everything they can to tear down someone they perceive as winning.
My philosophy is to be nice to everyone, as much as possible, and to take them at face value until they give reason to treat them otherwise. That's not to say I'll be a doormat, but I just don't see any reason to be rude or unfriendly. This gets me in trouble with the Toxins, who misinterpret niceness for superiority and the refusal to be incivil for wimpiness. However, I've come to the conclusion that it's a complete waste of energy to engage these people. All they want is a fight, so no matter how you try to explain yourself or defuse the situation, they're going to interpret it as an attack. So, my solution is to shrug, remind myself that that is not what I'm about, and move on. They can think what they like. Besides, ignoring the Toxins is actually the best way to handle them --- they can't stand it.
Believe it or not, this is kind of a hard change for me to make. For one thing, it's easy to get sucked in before you realize it; and when someone is being nasty to you and you're pretty good with the quips it's very tempting to one-up them. But it's a big waste of time and energy, and I have better uses for those.
Another change I need to make is in organizing certain areas of my life and doing a better job of choosing what to spend time on. I'm one of those people who usually has four or five major projects going at once; and I like it that way. But it's very easy --- at least for me --- to start spending too much time on projects that are fun or relatively easy, but provide the least payoff, and procrastinate the others or never get around to doing the tough stuff that would make them more profitable in terms of all the resources they could provide. In other words ... typical artist.
What I need, really, is a Financial Fairy Godmother, someone who has an affinity for this stuff and could show me how to turn my many creative ideas and endeavors into things that would pay better than they do. But until she shows up (driving a Prius and dressed in a chic pantsuit and sensible shoes, no doubt --- no pumpkin coach for the FFG, they don't get good enough gas mileage), I really need to spend some time getting myself better organized in that department.
There are other changes that need to be made, but they are not ready to be hashed out in public. Suffice it to say that for now, my inner ear is open and I am listening carefully for what needs to be heard. A word, a feeling, an inclination, a hunch, all can lead to that next puzzle piece.
What's being built is not a big picture, but a road.