If you want to be up to something beyond fitting in, settling down or taking up the roles others have made for you, you’re going to have to look closely and seriously at your relationship with tension. And ask yourself, when you feel your body tense, which way do you go?
You may not be able to address this question until you spend some time quietly observing yourself. What does tension actually feel like in your body? Where does it show up? What is its quality? How does it move?
The easiest way to interpret tension is as a problem to be resolved. So you move away from it, dissipate it, release it so that it can’t trouble you. You’ll have your own well practiced ways of doing this, and if you continue to observe yourself for a while you might find out what they are.
But know that if your move is away, always away, you’re acting to keep the world exactly as it is. Because tension is stirred at that exquisite moment when difference or possibility present themselves to you. The possibility of speaking with courage, of standing out, of surprising others and yourself, of being known in a new way, of being fully and radically in contact with others, of standing for something – all profound sources of tension.
So take on a bigger, more generous interpretation of what your body is up to. How about tension as an invitation, a doorway, the opening of a new horizon that you’ve never experienced before? Tension as a profound call to throw yourself wholeheartedly in to the riskiness and creativity of being alive.
If you want to be up to something in the world, sooner or later you’re going to have to step in and learn to stay in the midst of what you’ve turned away from for so long.