An Ode to Overwhelm

By Jessica Irwin | Explorer X Contributor

My heart runs into a brick wall and falls with a thud to the floor of my chest.

And then it gasps and springs alive, sprinting now to apologize.

(Yes, sometimes I rhyme.)

Before my mind can see it, my body knows it. These waves of overwhelm. These oceans of fear.

I think too much about the future.

About money.

About OMG, what if I’m deluding myself and this hope I have for a boundless life pops like a balloon full of hot air as soon as I try to make it real?

I need focus. I need action.

But the world chatters away in my ears, a thousand voices overlapping, rising, falling, spitting out streams of blogs and tweets and podcasts all crying for me to listen, subscribe, and join their tribe.

At the feet of which “guru” should I sit? Which thoughts of which “thought leaders” should I take the time to think about? How many online courses should I take, how many business plans should I create, how many dream boards should I make?

Quiet. Please. My inner being begs. My heart warns with its brick wall head bangs.

Enough. For now. Just let me be, please.

My heart whispers, don’t you want to just sit, just be? Just stare up at the clouds and sigh with the breeze?

Yes, please. My lungs breathe.

So I watch the clouds slide in their infinite sky. I memorize the touch of the wind on my skin, how it traces my temple, my cheek, my chin. Exhale to six, inhale to three.

I see. This is what it is to meditate, just breathe.

Back to reality.

My heart knows me better than my head.

But (sigh) conditioned to distrust such a frightening beat, I spin mental spider webs instead. Corner to corner I drag sticky threads of thoughts that quiver: Who are you to dream impossible dreams? A nothing. A nobody. Compared to all these. The movers, the shakers, the influence makers.

I retrace these old beaten paths through my brain. For days, for weeks, when I wake, when I sleep.

Until my heart says, hey what about me?

Bang, bang.

With a thud it falls to the floor.

Thump, thump. Thump, thump.

I pick it up and remember to breathe.

Quiet, please.


A Note from Explorer X:

As always, Jessica does a wonderful job in this post of eliciting the feelings that many of us have when we are going through any of life's challenges and transitions. Whether you are figuring out 'what you want to be when you grow up' or going through a career change, whether you are dealing with relationship challenges or creating the possibility of a new relationship, or any of a myriad of other situations, Jessica's words resonate in a powerful and provocative way. 

These types of concepts and conversations are at the heart of every Explorer X adventure. As we travel the world together, we will explore the biggest questions and challenges and opportunities you are facing in your life, and — as Jessica did in her journey of self-discovery and transformation — support you as you use the experiences of your adventure as a catalyst for getting out of your head and reconnecting with your heart, knowing that the answers we seek lie there.

This reminds us of a terrific quote from British Politician Andrew Bennett:

“The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart.”

Jessica also touches on the healing power of nature in her post. A growing body of scientific evidence has been able to link spending time in nature with improved emotional, mental, and physical health. To learn more about some of this research, check out our Must Reads page! 

We hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as we did, and we look forward to seeing you on one of our upcoming Muddy Shoe Adventures


About the Author | Jessica Irwin is an artist and adventurer at heart. Her own Hero's Journey has taken her from the corporate world to teaching English to walking dogs, with a few other pit stops along the way. She now photographs the unbridled real lives of children and their families, at home and abroad. You can see her work at Jessica Irwin Photography.

Michael Bennett