rebirth


It’s a funny thing about having all the time in the world: there still aren’t enough hours in the day.

As of October 1, I am no longer a working woman. But after a lifetime of holding down a job it’s been surprisingly difficult to turn off the internal dictator who berates me regularly with what I should be doing with my time. She doesn’t listen when I tell her that I’m allowed to do whatever I want. Her shoulds revolve around both working on the house and creative work and it’s a never-ending cycle of guilt.

As a friend pointed out, it’s only been a month. I need time to depressurize from what was frankly a difficult few years of forcing myself to get up and go to work when I felt lousy. I was so completely drained of energy that my Saturdays were usually a full body collapse and Sundays the only day of the week when I could accomplish anything. Now I have a whole week of weekends. At first, I did the full body collapse and it was difficult to get over the feeling that I was on a prolonged vacation and would have to return to the unbearable slog eventually. I’m just now beginning to get over that feeling, but I’m still not completely there yet.

I’ve utterly reset my body clock to my natural state of being up until the wee small hours and sleeping in late and I’m finally to the point of not needing 11-12 hours of sleep a night. I’m getting by on a mere 9 hours now and hope to get back to a conventional 8. Curiously, the dictator has never berated me about that (well, hardly ever). Even she recognized that I desperately needed the rest.

But as soon as I am out of bed, she starts with the shoulds. Clean this, write that, pick up this, finish that craft project, on and on and on.

What she doesn’t realize, and what I’ve only recently realized on a conscious level myself, was that I needed to completely dismantle the old structure of my life. What worked then is not going to work now. Once that is thoroughly dismantled, I can start building it back up again from the ground floor. Structure and schedules are necessary things for any kind of productivity. But I have to rebuild them to match my new reality.

Oh reality, you’re such a tricky bastard.

Another friend of mine retired July 1 and we’ve had many discussions about this. Like me, when she first retired she berated herself on a regular basis for not using the luxury of time in a better fashion. Like me, she’d been longing for years to get back to a place where she had enough energy to do her creative work. Because she didn’t immediately jump into the fray and start doing, she sent herself many hate messages. I’m happy to report her creative life has come back online—but it took a while of not doing anything, of stripping herself down and rebuilding herself to get that going.

The thing about having all the time in the world is that it takes time to be able to use it well. It’s a process like anything else. Artists are supposed to understand about process, but sometimes we fool ourselves, or forget, or get locked into a way of doing things that no longer works for us. What nobody tells you (because it’s not a conspiracy of silence but something you have to discover on your own) is that every artist who wants to keep doing art will periodically have to reinvent themselves. And it’s not as if I didn’t know this! I’ve had to reinvent my reason for writing and doing art a couple of times in my life, and I had conveniently forgotten that birthing a new process is painful. (One does tend to gloss over the icky bits.)

As my friend said, “There’s most likely growth going on subliminally that will manifest down the road.”

Ah yes, the growth thing. It’s so hard, I whine.

Being is becoming, as many a philosopher has pointed out. We are in a constant state of being until we be no more. That’s what the living do, taking it day by day, trying to build a productive life on the ash heap of illusion and ticking time. I don’t know why I thought having all the time in the world would make that any easier. Because, really, we don’t have all the time in the world. That is the biggest illusion of all. The trick is, I think, not to fear time running out so much that it freezes us in place or makes us set up panicky structures that don’t work for us.

Being is becoming. Becoming is taking the time to find that golden thread that pulls us along our true path.

Random quote of the day:

“There are places where the mind dies so that a truth which is its very denial may be born.”

—Albert Camus, “Wind at Djemila”

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.