End the chase, start a new one

For years I’ve had this reoccurring dream where I’m being chased, but I’m not exactly sure by whom or what. In this dream, I’ll run through all kinds of obstacles and escape elaborate traps just to get free. Sometimes I’ll even discover super powers, such as the ability to disappear and become invisible in front of my assailant. In the end, I never get caught, but then again, I also never stop running. It’s just one relentless pursuit after the next (a familiar metaphor for over-achievers).

I find myself falling into this dream sequence usually when I’m stressed or anxious about a big decision. And I wake up with the same question every time: what is my subconscious trying to tell me? What have I been distracted from in my waking hours that only my mind at rest could hear? It’s one of the reasons I love our mind, body, and soul connection. As Dr. Bessel Van De Kolk writes, The mind thinks, the soul knows, and the body keeps the score. Learning how to pay attention to our mind, body, and soul is the trick.

For me, my mind, body, and soul have been saying the same thing for a number of years: I’m tired. Tired of the chase, tired of the scars. I’ve got racial battle fatigue. Apparently it’s not just me. So many people I talk to, close friends, accomplished people, folks who have put in the time, money, and effort to chase the ubiquitous “American Dream” are asking the same question, is it worth it? We’ve got the scars to prove that perhaps it’s not. In some ways perhaps it’s a generational thing with the recent conversations about millennials and “quiet quitting” pointing to our dissatisfaction with of most of how society works. But honestly I think it has more to do with our season of life. And, factor in race and gender, and you gain an even clearer picture of what’s at stake.

As lyricist Derek Minor raps, we chase the American Dream for a long price…some of us more than others. For black and brown folks, when we start off generations behind, it can be taxing in so many ways when the few of us who do break through, have to deal with the repercussions on all fronts. It ends up taking its toll on our bodies, minds, and souls. It doesn’t take research to verify what we already feel in our bones, but it’s good to see studies now validating our lived experiences. Yep, we absolutely have reason to be tired. But neither racism or capitalism take a break, so how can we?

What if there was another way? Instead of white knuckling our way through life exacting damage on our bodies and psyches in ways we weren’t designed to carry, what if we instead try what Aundi Kolber calls trying softer. She writes of her own journey:

Trying harder wasn’t really working for me anymore. The strategies I had been using my entire life—hustling, overworking, overthinking, and constantly shifting to accommodate the dysfunction that surrounded me—they had kept me alive, yes, but now they were taking their toll.

Back to the reoccurring dream, I finally figured out what I was running from. While I couldn’t control the monster (or whatever it was), I could control my response. That was all I needed to know to end the chase. I haven’t had that dream for a few months now. I’m working on a new one now.



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