The other day on a walk, my friend told me that all of the big parts of his life were in flux; housing, work, money, love. None of them felt firmly planted, nothing was certain. And yet with all that uncertainty, he felt really solid. Meditation, walks with his dog in nature, art – – these were the consistents in his life, the things that he could rest in and which sustained him when all about him swirled in change.
I’ve been thinking about my friend as I take a look at the year ahead and the expectations that I have for myself. There’s a tendency for me to plan ahead, to already have 2014 envisioned and ready to roll out; new business ideas, new classes, exciting new projects. Big plans fueled by big ambition – that’s where I’m comfortable – when I’m sinking my teeth into things and making them happen.
But try as I might, that’s not where I am right now. I’m breathing, that’s for certain, and there are some wonderful small projects I’m offering in the New Year, but I’m moving more slowly. The big ideas, the flashy offerings, they’re not crystalized yet – they’re still fuzzy, still being fleshed out. And some of them may never happen. If I sound relaxed about this it’s only because this is what’s been working me for weeks, so I’m getting used to being in this foggy place where I can’t see past my own feet.
I have tried to catapult myself to a “better” place for sure.
In the last three weeks I have met separately with three deeply creative, brilliant women who all spent time trying to help me bring more clarity to my work in 2014. Each woman had great ideas for me – but as I listened, I just kept hearing this really quiet “no” inside of myself.
I didn’t understand it, it wasn’t practical and it was very uncomfortable. I felt sad, visionless and tired. Whereas last year at this time I had projects mapped out, retreats booked, confirmations from writers who were coming to the house to teach. But as 2014 loomed, I had none of that. If I needed anything, I needed a break, a chance to take my brain off line, but it was hard to let myself relax and trust that ideas would come.
Each day for the last many weeks I awoke with the hope that I’d come up with a vision for what I wanted to build in 2014. Maybe my walk with Andrea would birth something, maybe my meeting with Willo, this talk with Alex, this day with Jen…maybe someone else would see something that I couldn’t see and tell me what to do.
But nothing. All my encounters with these friends were lovely, but no green lights, just more quiet.
Then a couple of things crossed my path that helped me out a lot.
A simple posting on Face Book by Hannah Marcotti about sadness, which had me feel less alone and ashamed of feeling so unassembled. Not everyone was hooting and hollering about the New Year apparently.
Then my old friend Maya Stein sent me a home made card with the words, “Do not move more than you absolutely have to,” and which felt like a sign to stop pushing myself to figure things out. It was such a relief to have a good friend know me so well.
Don’t do anything – in which he instructs people to sit for long periods of time staring at the wall day dreaming. No music, no phone, no newspaper, no computer, no internet. Just staring and letting a lot of small nothings rise and fall for a very long time, like breaths, like waves. For days, he says. Same thing when you’re driving; no music, just day dream. He reminded me that day dreaming is a creative person’s medicine, and is the opposite of forcing things. It takes patience and it takes some faith, but it’s essential because what arises from that fertile, organic place inside of me – as opposed to that forced, fearful place of – Oh shit, what the hell am I doing in 2014? – is going to be a lot more authentic and sustaining for me. It’s also the place the “yes” might live.
And so back to my friend with his life in flux, nothing certain except how he holds himself in that place, how he finds the stability in what feels unstable. That’s my medicine right now, that’s what I’m sinking my teeth into. What I find I do not know, but I will keep you posted.