Thursday, November 19, 2009

Living my Best Life

I don't know how to live my best life. You know that, right? No experts here! If that's what you're looking for, move along; there is nothing to see. Just like everyone else, I'm struggling with this idea. Practicing self-care without spinning off into hedonism. Learning discipline without trailing off into asceticism. Observing one's own process without becoming a narcissist. This is work.

Right now, I have some not-huge-but-definitely-there questions I need to answer, in the fairly near future. As in, a few days ago would have been good. They have to do with work load and my ability to manage my time -and my apparent inability to create more time out of thin air, in spite of my clear need and worthiness ;) And, we might as well be honest, my own need to do a good job at everything is also involved.

For the past year, I have kept myself wildly busy. I did this on purpose. On the one hand, I put off my own dreams for too long. I don't have time to delay them any longer; being tired isn't a good enough excuse. And, I was very afraid that if I allowed myself very much (any) unstructured time, I would sit home and brood. Bitterness isn't really in my nature, but self-pity can be. So, keep moving-no brooding. That was my thinking.

That strategy worked, in a sense. I have made important strides. I feel better. Most of the time, I am grateful to be living alone and having this opportunity to be self-determining. Gradually, though, it has become easier (less difficult, anyway)to let some things go. I am no longer working at the yarn shop on Saturdays. I don't need the money (although I will sorely miss the discount on yarn!) and I do need the Saturdays. My thinking was that I had let some things go in the service of others. Yet, I see now that I was still leading with fear. Little wonder, I suppose, given my recent experiences. Yet, I think it's time to do something else.

I have this picture of my perfect life. It involves work for social justice (from which I am almost completely separate these days); thinking, writing, and teaching; a varied and festive social life with my friends and family; a welcoming, calm home; rock-climbing, biking, and yoga; creativity (which mostly means knitting and writing); cooking, baking, reading for fun, travel... It's a picture I acknowledge to be unattainable. It's a world where the clothes are never wrinkled, my haircut isn't two weeks overdue, and all work is accomplished easily in its appointed time. Yes, I see the problem. I am simultaneously unable to live up to this fantasy and unwilling to let it go.

People advise me to do less -lower my standards. It's perfectly valid, but I don't think it's the answer for me. Until I find the right balance, I'm going to entertain the possibility that I am also living my best life when I doubt, when I am exhausted, when I just flat-out don't feel like working this hard anymore. I can't will those feelings away. But I can try to hold the dream as a gentle thing in front of me, and try to love myself into it.

The pace may not change, but its frantic nature might. Or, love will have a gentler pace than fear. We'll see.


Lisa :-] said...

The key here is mentioned in the body of this post. You want to do things WELL. It seems to me that if you try to do SO many things, you won't be able to do any of them as well as you would like. In that interest, you might definitely want to do a little stream-lining of your "to-accomplish" list.

Charlene said...

huh - I would say do MORE of what you want most. let the rest go. Is that a sneaky way of saying 'do less?' maybe? :)