photo-18

I have taken the week off of work with week. Our babysitter is away visiting her family. This is not when we normally take our vacation–we hold out for cousins week each August. So instead, of using the week to escape my life, I am using it to delve more deeply into it. To do all the things I wished I could do if I wasn’t so occupied by my paid work. I have been anticipating it juicily. I feel I put off so much of my life while i am living it.

So often this last month, while battling against the assault of the end of the school year (with its performances, and picnics and celebrations and ceremonies) I would dreamily say, “I will get to THAT when it is all over and I take my week off”. I had a long list of chores, projects, playdates, and fun.

I had a bit of a panic as the week approached–as Friday signaled that “the week” had finally arrived. As I did the math, I had no idea how I would get it all done. Like a general, I pulled out spreadsheet and organized my time into neat little blocks.

But still it didn’t calm me. I was so afraid that the time would slip by and I would have missed it, missed my chance, missed my moment. Missed my juicy life. Missed my opportunities to delve deeply into all that I had put off until “just the right time”. Does this sound familiar?

So I made my schedule (because as we all know routine is soothing and good for children and adults alike), and then reminded myself that as long as I lived deeply in every moment I would have lost or missed nothing.

I am having to do a lot of reminding of myself. This week I am learning that no matter how wise I pretend to be, I can’t shake that habit of imagining a time in the (hopefully) not to distant future, when I will finally get it right, when a bell will ring, when the curtains will part and I will arrive at my perfect life. (I had somehow convinced myself that that time MIGHT just be at the conclusion of my week off).

Once upon a time I could have rattled off to you exactly what it would look like when I finally made it–about the job and the kids and the state of the house. Truth is, over the last 5 years that vision has gotten pretty muddied, but still, I can’t quite shake the feeling that some magical moment is right around the corner and when I turn it, my happily ever after will start.

I am (she says withe relief) no longer attached to one vision of how it might look, but still, there is still that striving, that sense that I am on my way somewhere and it will be my reward for the pain and the struggle and the heartache and all the soul work.

I have a mentor and soul sister named Kaiya. Whenever I mutter that “I am getting there” as I talk about my life she sits up very tall and looks at me very sternly. “There is no THERE baby girl.” she tells me. “There is no magical moment. The reward for doing your soul work is more soul work. The reward for eating healthily is craving more good food. The reward for learning to unconditionally love, messy and complicated people is another glorious day relating and learning from the same messy and complicated people. There is no “aha” moment when it will all make sense. So stop waiting for that moment and jump in. Thats it. Be here in this moment. In a comfortable room with a pleasant view. Sitting with someone you love. Talking about stuff that matters. Talking about stuff that is silly. This is it. This is your life. Its a good life. Enjoy it.”

OK. Thats great. I can sit and enjoy my life in slow motion. I have mastered the art of “letting it all hang out”. I have eased into being–just in a space and time, which is great. Except for when things need to be done. Except for when there are steps to take that may be hard or complicated and demand a lot of energy.

Its so hard for me to be action oriented but in the present. Isn’t that nutty? I am good at simply sitting in the moment, but I am so unpracticed at the idea of moving forward and taking action without any story about that action carrying me somewhere–without the belief that that action will help me somehow arrive. I find that I am either all blissed out in the now on my cushion or sitting in the sunshine or sitting with a good friend and tea or tequila or wrapped up in my down comforters with a great book. But doing things I need to do, that are scary and hard work–stuff like doing art, or writing something longer than a blog post, or taking steps to get to school–doing them for the sake of them, without a sense that they are worthy because they signal some implicit arrival. Doing them simply because they need to be done. That is so difficult.

This week, I painted my kitchen. Once upon a time I never would have gotten started with a painting project like this because it would have been wrapped up in a vision of a perfect house. I would have done the calculus and seen that week or even a few hours is not enough time to arrive at what I wanted and so I would have given up before even starting, paralyzed by what it would take to arrive. I decided I would just practice painting for the sake of it–with no attachment to a beautiful kitchen, or even a neat kitchen. I found it soothing and soulful and restful. I find that I am making progress step by baby step. I am painting my kitchen because it wants to be green. Not because I have any story about a clean kitchen or a beautiful kitchen or even about a kitchen that will be orderly or calm or in which I will live a more beautiful cleaned up version of my current life.

Its a balance that is complicated to find. Just like all the unpracticed people before me, I am failing more than I am succeeding but I am using this week, with its scheduled blocks of time and its chores and its wide open spaces to practice the art of realizing that I have indeed already arrived. With every breath I arrive over and over again.

3 Responses to “Arrival”

  1. giftsofthejourney (Elizabeth Harper) Says:

    Green is both an old (age 14) and recent favorite color of mine. I find soothing as well. Great post once again … giving me much to consider.

    Oh and I love the shade of green you chose … it’s lovely.

  2. Christa Says:

    oh. I am sitting here in awe – not of the green (which is just beautiful) but of the growth. Your growth…

  3. Trish Says:

    The kitchen looks great! I love the green. I can’t wait to see it and you in July. Call me! 781.956.7443
    Trish