Hello after a much needed hiatus, I hope that the last few weeks have been grand for you all. I was on a little vacation and decided to allow my normal schedule to soften a bit in all aspects of my life. Writing fell by the wayside, I slept in and skipped out on the morning miles. I just let myself be.
Those are the times that do us strangely good. Now, granted, you can’t stay in that kind of state if you hope to advance your work in progress or be prepared for that fastly-approaching relay race (yikes, maybe I should have ran a little more…) But the respite is an important part of any successful endeavor. I don’t actually know if that’s scientifically proven, but I do know about burnout and I know the only way to avoid it is to rest once in a while.
Plus, life is short…we should pause to enjoy it occasionally instead of hurrying ourselves into the grave.
One of the best things resting can do, is reorient yourself to the quietness inside. When the demands of the world are so loud and the shoulds, and have-tos, and oughts are always at the forefront we often forget what it is we really want. We forget to check in and see if what we’re doing is really what we need to be doing. What we want to be doing. Does it serve our happiness? Or someone else’s?
I’m not sure if it’s viable for you, but I encourage you as a writer, a parent, an athlete, or whatever label you’ve had slapped on your ass, to step back once in a while. Even if it’s just taking a ‘mental health’ day from work to change up your routine. Purposefully don’t do what you always do. Refuse. Resist. Sit quietly with the only person that’s really in control of your situation (no not the toddler, I know it feels that way, but…)
Reacquaint yourself with you.
It can be kind of harrowing. The quiet removal of all you ‘live for’ in a day has the effect of taking a car seat out of the back of your car after a year. You might see a lot of trash and rotting debris beneath all that was so ‘necessary’ (quotes are for effect of the comparison…car seats are TOTALLY NECESSARY). The clear space of you that’s been neglected for a long time. Sometimes that space has been neglected for so long that it, itself, has become rotted and unstable. And with that can come the clarity of why everything that rests on it, all the things you do in a day, feel like they’ll topple over at any second.
A neglected core is unstable ground for building a life.
It can be scary to find that what you once clung to so fiercely is not really what you want deep down. You can’t heal that wound until you clean it all out, study it, and treat it. Life leaves us scars in this way. Places we’ve been, people we’ve loved, that no longer make sense to the path that’s at the true core of our center. They may even throw our center completely off for other areas of our lives. So cull the herd. Start from the bottom and build new dreams, new goals, that fulfill what you need today, not five-ten-twenty years ago.
Don’t forget human, you’re meant to change over the years.
Get deep. Get dark. Get to know yourself again, then work your way up.
Distance. One word with a myriad of attached ideas. The space between two points, the play between perspectives, and how it can shift the way we see the world.
As a mom, wife, friend, co-worker, volunteer, writer, runner, kenpoist and all the other shit I personify in life, I get really bogged down in how the world sees me.
We all have responsibilities and I know that I talk about this a lot. But I think that part of the beauty of being human is trying to find a balance between what we have to do and what we want to do in terms of how we create artistically.
It’s generally agreed upon that the have-to’s rarely help out the want to’s. That is, when we are so embroiled in buying groceries and appeasing children, and working the hours, and mopping the floors, we have very little left of brain and body to contribute to our art.
Maybe some people don’t have this problem and the fire in their core burns bright enough to fuel all of their endeavors whether they are necessary or casual.
But I ain’t one of those people.
In our world today we’re seeing a startling trend of human beings snapping.
I think it’s the fast pace. I think it’s the constant technological interconnection and human disconnection. I think it’s the noise that barrages us, nonstop. I think it’s the expectations, and the anger, the powerlessness that often comes when we realize how fragile we are and how big the world’s problems can seem when they’re looming over our heads.
All. The. Time.
No wonder we medicate. No wonder we drink. No wonder we take out our aggression on innocent bystanders and make scapegoats out of whatever group we think could be the root of suffering.
It isn’t right, it isn’t just. But our poor little lizard brains can’t contemplate or find order under such constant distress. Most of us, aren’t self-aware enough to stop and gain perspective on it all.
And that brings me back to distance.
Distance and perspective are fraternal twins. Borne of the same womb but different in their nature. We need one to have the other. Both are vitally important to our survival as a species.
Distance as an artist can be hard to gain. It means dropping the roles we are pegged into, permanently or at least temporarily, in order to have hour proverbial hands free to create, to problem solve, and to ease the process of gaining proper perspective that will, eventually lead to healthier choices, lifestyles and hopefully communities at large.
So stop. For a day. For a week. Hell, for an hour. Disconnect.
Leave behind the have to’s and make it okay for yourself to let go.
Let your overactive, overachieving brain know that this is the time to not.
To not think too much, to not make lists or plans or organize the day. Let your brain know that there’s no shame in stillness. In staring out the window at the snow, or sleeping in. Or writing just to write, and not feeling obligated to anything else. To paint without interruption unless you feel like getting out for a walk.
How many of us have ever let our bodies and brains do just what they wanted, just when they wanted?
Not many. We always have too much shit to do.
So drop the shit. Let it go.
Be okay with just being.
You’d be surprised the calm that will find you. And a calm mind is a happy mind.
A creative mind
A forgiving mind.
An open and accepting mind.
It can become all of the things our world needs.
So go find some distance. Get out of town, get out of your cubicle, get out of your head.