More and more these days, I find that I enjoy time to my myself. For myself. By myself. I used to not know if I was introverted or extroverted. I know now, undoubtedly, that I am an introvert. I require this time alone, in silence, without so much as music on, to maintain my mental health.
It's not exactly silent, however. Even at 7:30am on a Saturday. I can hear traffic to my left, a child rambling on about something outside to my right, Jacques' deep-sleep breathing in the loft upstairs, and pigeons. So... many... bloody... pigeons.
But there is no one speaking to me, and no one I am obligated to speak to. Just me, my journal, and a golden milk latte.
This, for me, is freedom. Yet, there is a current of fear that threads its way through this river of freedom. Adjacent to this current is joy, and the two are intrinsically connected by choice.
Allow me to explain. In this moment of solitude, with my to-do list set aside, I am free. I am free to choose to do - or not do - whatever I wish. This freedom of choice can be exhilarating. It can also be paralyzing.
In a society where most of us operate out of obligations and responsibilities, moments of freedom such as this can be terrifying. These responsibilities appear to be choices that are made for us. (Or so we perceive). We've learned to thrive off of fulfilling commitments, accomplishing tasks, and moving purposefully down our to-do lists. There's no shame in this. I personally love ticking the boxes next to my never-ending list of items. There is a certain feeling of pride in knowing you are taking care of things that need to taken care of.
There are repercussions to this way of being, however. When given the option to do whatever we want, and that whatever we choose needn't have any inherent purpose other than the sheer joy of doing it... we panic.
How many times have you heard, "My life is so busy, I don't even know what I would do with free time if I had it." I hear fear in these words. "What do I even like anymore? What do I truly want to do with my time?"
Perhaps what we are really asking is: "Who am I?"
Have we gotten so caught up in the perceived necessities of life that we have forgotten who we truly are? How many of us root our identity in our accomplishments? How many of us have the daily dialogue of: "I want to do this, but I should do that instead"?
Therein lies that evil word: should. I've said many times to anxious friends and family when they go on a "should" rant: "Stop should-ing all over yourself!" I am not suggesting that we cease to be responsible adults. I am, however, suggesting that it is time to zoom out and take a look at how we identify ourselves, specifically through the lens of how we choose to spend our time.
We do not have to live a life of obligation. It can be filled with play, with joy, with the freedom to choose. The dishes can wait - go out and chase the blue skies. Delight yourself with the outdoors. Roll around in the grass if it pleases you. Curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Get a baby-sitter and go dancing. Do something that makes you smile.
If there is time enough to make a to-do list and subsequently stress over it, there is time enough to play. Choose to laugh, choose to relax, and enjoy the exhilaration of making that choice. Through this process of choosing joy, we begin to see more clearly the true essence of who we are.
We have enough time. We simply have to choose how we use it.
Sunday, 1 April 2018
I thought I had to choose one over the other. Dancing or writing. I can't possibly focus on both, I would tell myself. There's only so much creative energy I can muster, and I must allocate it accordingly depending on mood and opportunity. I thought dancing and writing were separate from each other. I thought I had to choose. Indulge in one, and starve myself of the other.
Zadie Smith's soul-quenching words (found in Maria Popova's Brain Pickings) opened my eyes to a truth that has been lingering under the surface, just out of reach: I cannot have one without the other. Writing and dancing don't just coexist, they inform one another. They are stronger together, like an embrace from both parents at once. They are the same message told in two languages.
Writing and dancing - they are both platforms for telling stories.
I've been waiting for the best, most opportune, most inspired moment to write. I wait, and I wait, and I wait some more. Likewise, I wait for energy imbued with confidence and sex appeal to dance. I wait for the belief that I am able to dance well. I am still waiting.
When will the perfect moment of inspiration arrive? I ask myself. When will I be perfectly confident in my own skin?
No, these are not the right questions. I am waiting as if writing and dancing have anything to do with me. As if without me they won't exist. I am not a conjurer of words and movement who's art can only be preceded by the most ideal creative circumstances possible. I am not a super hero with super powers. I am a curator of stories. A curator who will be waiting forever if she doesn't ask the right question.
There is, after all, only one: What story wants to be told today?