I learned something about myself yesterday. It's official. I am indeed my own worst enemy. But that's normal. We all should be careful what we wish for because we probably don't know what to do when we get it. Thank God the wise ones warned me.
Like so many people, I have chased around busily, wishing for free time. Well, yesterday I had it. And after the success of a blog post (Play at new passion, check.), I didn't know what to do with myself.
Granted circumstances were against me. It was 20 degrees at the warmest yesterday, and I handle cold poorly, so extended outside time was...well, out (Reynaud's syndrome and long winter exposure are mutually exclusive.) I wanted to be baking, which always helps my attitude, but the mother-in-law was working in her kitchen. I have no space to set up my sewing machine, so the crafty ideas that I now have time to hatch are a no go. I couldn't find my favorite reference pictures to share with hubby so that we could compare ideas for our new house. I have no current house to keep up or improve upon, projects for which usually keep me busy over Christmas break. My usual go-to activities were all removed from possibility.
By evening I was quite fussy, abandoned to a waiting room day--just waiting to go to bed again. When that time arrived, My Beloved, as he always does, listened to my tirade, after which I felt a little relieved and resigned to getting some sleep and starting over tomorrow. I chose Julia Cameron's Letters To A Young Artist to read for a few minutes before sleeping, in the hope that it would comfort my ailing artsy heart. It did, and then some.
I realized, while reading her admonitions to quit whining and just get busy making art when, where, and how you are, including bored (ouch), how easy it is to blame our circumstances or life demands (the child, the house, etc) for our inability to live our imagined good life in which we produce beautiful fruit. I found yesterday that it isn't the time you have, it's the use you make of it, whether it's a whole winter day or ten minutes each morning. I wasn't prepared for the time that came my way, and I got angry and upset about that situation, rather then calmly solving the problem. I have a tendency to do that.
So many wise and creative people warned me that this would happen. We crave, in the midst of seemingly imposed-upon-us busyness, free time and solitude. We live for vacation, which is fine as a balancing antidote to manic activity but not fine as a way of life. With the freedom in empty time comes the responsibility to fill it well, with what you keep saying really matters. Instead, most of the time, we go a little out of our minds at first. That's what Tim Ferriss, author of The Four-Hour Workweek, and Martha Beck in her little gem The Joy Diet both say. I see now what they mean.We may chafe against limitations, but they actually do us a backhanded favor, relieving us of the need to decide what to do. Unleashed from schedules and obligations, it's all up to you baby. Better know what you love and enjoy and feel called to give to the world. The work of finding that if you don't know it can be a little bumpy indeed.
Anyway, after reading a wiser woman's words, I resolved to find a way to redeem this time, which will not be forever at all. I start back to school on Wednesday, and mom-in-law has knee replacement surgery on the 25th, after which I expect to be homekeeper while she heals. I made myself a plan for today to use this time well while it lasts, with writing at the top. (Here I am. This is for me and maybe for others, too.) There's also a little business that's been ignored during the holiday-ing this week and a little baking, if the kitchen is clear.
I also thought of something wonderful to do when I don't know what to do--look around me (at the house, the field, the newborn calves) with capturing eyes and take pictures! I've often wished for time to play at experiencing and savoring the world this way. Now is my chance. I've been nudged into making a start already by this wordy blog of mine, which seemed to need some pictorial accentuation (Or is it relief?), so I chose a couple of stored shots of one of the barns at night to share. The first is at the beginning of this post, illustrating my belated light bulb moment. Here is the other.
Yesterday's crappiness was a teacher, in the way that negative experiences often are if we let them be. Here's what I learned.
1) I now know that I can always go looking for more beauty where I am, without leaving home or spending an extra dime, thanks to the miracle of the digital camera. I now have a space-efficient and creative hobby to explore.
2) If I yearn to live like an artist, I need to make artistic choices for my time and form artist habits for my days.
3) I need to relearn how to play. I'm a grown up's grown up from way back. Just piddling around with something or doing nothing needs to become OK with me again.
4) I really ought to get comfortable with the notion that just being is enough. I guess one shouldn't require a checklist of accomplishments to feel worthy.
What a lot of wisdom came from a seemingly lousy day. If I can manage to live by it in this new year, life should be a finer thing indeed.