I recently realized that almost every issue in my life can be grasped with just one word.
This profound truth came to me in a moment of unexpected revelation during a casual, random conversation with my sister.
We were sitting on the kitchen floor, our backs pressed against the white cabinets under the sink, tired and too lazy to start making dinner yet so we played on our phones and talked. I don’t even know now what we were talking about, but in the middle of saying something I spoke a line that literally turned my head.
“I’m ambivalent about everything in my life.”
My gaze left my sister’s face to stare straight ahead, sudden wide eyed awareness dropping into my jaw, slackening my shoulders, ringing through my brain like a clear silver bell.
I repeated it. “I’m ambivalent about everything in my life.” Ding ding ding!
The thought resounded in my head. Ambivalent. Ambivalent. I’m ambivalent.
About everything in my life.
I’m indecisive. I’m on the fence. Uncertain. Unsure. Constantly grappling with opposing values, interests, needs, and desires. With one foot on the accelerator and another on the brake, hesitating, ever wondering if there is enough in the tank to get anywhere.
As a result I often feel like I am getting nowhere, or else just somewhere that is neither here nor there. I ride along on an emotional merry-go-round of inner conflict and spin through varying cycles of “Yes/No/Maybe”.
This ambivalence is not new. It’s not a recent development. It’s been most of my life.
And I think the reason I hold onto it is to avoid the messy process of living. I opt instead to stay in a little bubble inside my head where mistakes do not have real world consequences. I have seen and felt some of those consequences and it fucked me up. It took too much time to recover, to reset, to regain my course.
I have fizzled out in my efforts many, many times too. So I’ll start to progress and then ambivalence made its way back into my basket, stalling my way forward.
But what if it weren’t that way?
What if the moment ambivalence crept in became when I clicked into gear?
What if I could be consistently decisive? Sure, certain, resolute? What if I could shift quickly? Move forward… immediately?
What if I could lean into every so-called problem in my life with a sense of curiosity? What if instead of seeing an obstacle or source of endless personal debate, I asked, “What is the opportunity here?”
What if, instead of being ambivalent about everything, I were more adventurous?
I think I’d take more risks. I might have more fun. I’d pick a path and run with it. If for no other reason than to keep the momentum going, and to stay in the flow.
Sometimes we need to rest from the action, I get that. However there is a critical difference between stillness and stagnation. Water that does not move for too long becomes stagnant water.
Ambivalence for me is that difference in the water of life. I too often bunker down and drown myself with it while the wind blows at my sails and the horizon beckons me to unknown places. Adventure, she calls.
That is my new word to unlock the “problems” of life.