My Life as a Gannet

Gannets, Newfoundland, 2001 - KPI remember watching a nature show about Gannets; the large, white sea birds that nest in dense colonies along the coast for several weeks a year.  The commentator explained that when presented with both, a predator flying over-head and a baby crying to be fed, Gannets will often start to preen themselves.  Overwhelmed by two competing stimuli requiring very different reactions, the birds stall and display behaviour that is inappropriate to both situations.

That is me.  I am a Gannet.  I am “between jobs” with a time on my hands for the first time in many years. There are a thousand things I could be doing; dozens of things I should be doing.  I am planning on moving once I secure a new job so I should be fixing my house, packing my belongings, and doing deep cleaning.  I should be researching storage facilities and looking for a new home.  But I can’t seem to decide – where to start in my house, whether to hire someone to help me, or where to move to.

Gannets - Newfoundland, 2001 - 2  KPInstead, I have been wasting time.  I have been both bored and restless; unable to settle on one task.  I have been eating for entertainment, for pleasure, for comfort!!  “Go for a walk” I tell myself.  But I cannot pull myself away from the computer.  I have been obsessively checking social media sites and job sites; watching the same jobs flash before my eyes over and over again.  At night, I comfort myself with a steady stream of Netflix fare.

“Keep busy”, I tell myself but it is SO hard to do so when your life is up in the air.  I don’t know where I will be working in two months, where I will be living, or what I will be doing!  In fact, I don’t know IF I will be working in two months.  I feel frozen in job-seeking Hell; applying for jobs and waiting!  “Go for a holiday!” my daughter tells me. But how can I go away when I am waiting to be invited for a job interview?

Gannets - Newfoundland - 2001 - 3  KPI seem to be stuck on a ever-revolving carousel where every decision rests on the one before it.  I know that something will change and then I will have to take care of all of things that are going un-done when I had the time.  But somehow that does not seem to matter.  Like the big, white bird that spends most its life at sea, I am stuck; overwhelmed by the tasks requiring my attention, plagued by indecision, and immobilized by fear.

About kp

I am a woman and a mother, a sister and a wife. I have called myself a socialist and a feminist, an environmentalist and an activist, a pagan and an atheist. But, at this stage in my life, none of these labels feel right. I am searching; trying to find an inner calm; trying to make peace with life's disappointments; trying to answer the big questions in my own small life.
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13 Responses to My Life as a Gannet

  1. Fear of the unknown can overwhelm us if we let it Kim.. Remember to breatheeeeeeeeeee…
    And centre yourself.. Knowing all things come in their own time.. Enjoy your ME time.. and send out a message to the Universe.. that you are going within its flow and allow it to just take you where you need to be..
    The more you resist it. the more turbulent it will become .. Think Dove of Peace.. LOL.. not Gannet :-) Hugs your way xxx Sue

    • kp says:

      Laughing out loud here!!! Thanks Sue….I needed that!! It is crazy; I can see myself spinning out there but can’t seem to stop myself. I will probably be back into the crazy busy lifestyle that is norm in a few months and praying, once again, for a little quiet time for myself!! Kim

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    I suspect we all will have known of this phenomenon at some point within our lives Kim. In Buddhist psychology, it’s rather unflatteringly known as ‘confusion’, and yet we all fall prey to it in varying degrees, at different times, and under certain circumstances. Some find it helpful to introduce structure into the disordered state of affairs – for example: writing lists, creating schedules, fixing priorities. The trouble is that once we decide this is a good idea, we then forget about it and head straight for the fridge! You are too self-aware to require advice, so why not just enjoy being a Gannet, because you can be sure of this – it won’t last long. All best wishes, Hariod.

  3. Oriah says:

    Kim, Reminds me of the time when we (my sons and I) were told that the co-op where we lived was going to renovate our home (for structural reasons) and we would no longer qualify to live there. The message was delivered while we were up at a campsite. By the time we got home the kitchen and back bedroom had been torn off the building and the renovation had begun. The workers had taken everything out of those two rooms and dumped it in a huge pile in the livingroom where it lay in a tangled mess covered with dust from the ongoing reno. I knew where we were going and what had to be done, but I was completely overwhelmed. I could NOT start- just could not find a place in me that could move into sorting and packing and doing all the other things you have to do when you move. Finally, a friend came over. She picked one thing up from the pile and asked: “Pack, throw out or give it away?” And we began- one thing at a time.

    Your situation is filled with more unknowns but I do think that the paralysis from overwhelm is similar. My suggestion would be- get some help. If you want to make sure you go for a walk make a date with a friend who won’t take no for an answer. If there’s a closet to be cleared out- get a friend who is willing to hold up things one at a time and ask the question. Truly- there are times when we need to lean into those who love us.

    • kp says:

      Thank you Oriah…for understanding exactly what I am talking about and providing some concrete advice about how to proceed. I feel like I am in free fall. Experience tells me things will work out but it is not always possible to hold on to that reality. Your advice brought tears to my eyes because I have never learned how to ask for help. With my mom leaving home when I was still a teenager, I have learned to be incredibly self-sufficient. There are times in life when that is not healthy. Lots of love…Kim

      • Oriah says:

        I’ve been holding you in my thoughts and prayers since I read this- and my prayer is that you hold yourself with tenderness and mercy in this frustrating process. Much love, Oriah

  4. Sally says:

    My heart goes out to you Kim. I really struggle with uncertainty too and hate it when I find myself in that unsettled state. When I was going through my divorce and my Dad was dying, somebody gave me a copy of Pema Chodron’s wonderful book ” When Things Fall Apart.” I think I’ve underlined something on nearly every page and have returned often to reread her wisdom. What I most appreciate is her reminder that uncertainty is always with us and to be compassionate with ourselves when we struggle.

    • kp says:

      Thank you Sally….I will look for her book the next time I get to a book store…lovely advice. It is a good to remember that others have been here in their lives, moved through it, and come to a new stage in their lives that finds them happy and content once more. Virtual hugs….Kim

  5. I just absolutely love this posting. We have all been in the “Gannet” state. This explanation now gives me visual for what I am experiencing. thank you! I hope your situation changes soon, but I really appreciate you sharing your awareness.

    • kp says:

      Thanks Kimberly….It is good to know that it was helpful and that I am NOT the only one who has found herself in that place. I find that articulating the problem in writing often helps me to shift my behaviour. I hope things move soon for you as well!! Kim

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