The air around me feels sticky.
Not in a humid, weather-related way, but the actual energy surrounding me.
Things are chill…ish. Routine…most days. Life is flowing…sort of. But that energy persists like a low buzz, pointing out what most of us try to ignore on a regular basis.
Those times when we feel stagnant.
When we’re in the messy middle. When we’re not on the cusp of something new or anticipating the end of something that’s run its course. When nothing is wrong but a lot of things just don’t feel right.
Those times when we have decisions to make but they’re not urgent. When we could choose to go one way just as easily as we could choose the other. When making a choice could change everything but not making a choice could keep us static or safe, depending on how we look at things.
I often feel like these are the moments that trip me up the most. Beginnings? Well, those can be exciting. There’s promise and possibility and the option to rewrite how our story unfolds. And endings? Well, those can be sad or disappointing or even liberating. It’s a chance to let go of what isn’t working or give ourselves the opportunity to heal and start over.
But the messy middle, where we could go either way? Or no way? Well, those moments can be infuriating. Because how do we know when we’re standing still because where we are is where we’re meant to be or because we’re too comfortable or afraid to take the first step forward?
How do we know whether we’re bored with our routine or uncomfortable with stability because we thrive off chaos?
How do we know if it’s time to put one foot in front of the other and make some changes to pull ourselves out of the mundane or take a seat and realize that the best plan at the moment is no plan at all?
When I find myself in this place where I don’t really know what my next move should be, or if there’s even a move to be made, I try to be still. I try to listen to the quiet voice within and only make a move when that voice grows louder, stronger, more confident.
And as I do with most experiences that pop up in life, I turn to music. Because sometimes the perfect song at just the right time is exactly what we need to finally decide what our next step is.
Here’s 12 songs, some from my personal playlists and some suggestions from Elephant readers, that can help us move through the messy middle:
“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
“Chasing Pavements” by Adele
“Make It Happen” by Mariah Carey
“Keep on Movin'” by Soul II Soul
“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba
“We Can Work it Out” by The Beatles
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding
“Bad Idea Right?” by Olivia Rodrigo
“Everybody’s Changing” by Keane
“Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell
“Runnin'” by The Pharcyde
“Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson