What I have learned about me by not being ridiculously busy for the first time in a decade:
- I am a procrastinator. I had my suspicions in the past, but it has been confirmed. In the past it was never obvious because I was always working on ten things at once, and while each thing was put off to the very last minute, I was busy all the while. There was always daily deadline. With no sense of immediacy or urgency, I putter … even more than Ben Braun-Kauffman. Because there is always something to accomplish in puttering. It’s just harder to measure.
- I will always and forever wish for more time. I will always yearn for the mythical Someday, when I will be able to release and act upon projects that remain blurrily confined to my brain. These ideas will always grow and spread in painful and inspiring spurts, and my desire to accomplish them will always be eventually converted into guilt or pressure. Even if I have the time to do them.
- I am 75% ideas, 25% action. I always thought I would readily take action on my ideas if I were (in the mythical Someday) granted to time and space to do it – I hoped I was a more balanced 50/50 split. Turns out, as I am now living in the not-so-intangible mythical Someday, I’m only a really devoted do-er when I have a full schedule and I have no choice but to get ‘er done. But lighten the load on my plate…(see item #1 above)
- I have a lot of ideas.
- I am afraid of taking on a major project on my own. I’ve been talking about writing all year, and was waiting for the opportunity to be away from my normal distractions and commitments to give my brain room to de-fuzz from fatigue and busyness. Now I’m supposedly in it. And I revert back to items #1 and #2. And then taking #4 into account in conjunction with #3…well, you see where that leads...
- I need people to keep me going, to hold me accountable, to inspire me, to bounce ideas off of, to collaborate with, to goof off with, to run around outside with, to adventure with, to get me out of my head and to keep me from going too far inside it for too long. I might think I’d rather be alone, I might think I need to be free and totally independent, I might think I would like to be hermit. But I need to connect. I am neither rock nor island, as it turns out.
This year’s adventure – leaving Abbotsford at the end of June to travel across Canada and perform in living rooms and backyards, and venturing north of 60 to satiate some longtime Mowatian desire to experience one of the most Canadian parts of Canada – has not been about what I thought it was going to be about. It is not about finally having the time to write a play. It has not been about organizing the digital archives of the thousands upon thousands of photos I’ve taken over the course of the last few years. It has not been about becoming Heather Rose so that I can feel less like a fraud when I tell her story. It has not been about reconnecting with my French roots. It has not been about better understanding the plight of the Inuit or the First Nations people of Canada… or what Farley Mowat and John Ralston Saul and by extension maybe even Louis Riel are all about.
So far as I can tell, it’s been more about discovering different elements in myself, removed from the me I have come to know in the last decade. To experience firsthand the variability of the properties of character, of faith, of pride, of skill, of a sense of belonging, of a sense of self. To see how environment and habit shape and define. To observe and take stock of who I am in quiet, when no one else is looking...well, besides maybe Rosie. And to be inspired by the opportunity to do so.
And the 6 items listed above, which are neither Gospel nor complete, are things that I have been observing in myself as being slightly … different… than I would have liked to see in myself when I imagined living in the mythical Someday (though simultaneously confirming niggling suspicions I may have had). Because one might say that I’m living in that mythical Someday, since I took a year to get away and chip away at my dreams of writing and being bored. And I suppose I want to object that I’m not living a true mythical Someday, since the ideal mythical Someday should always be just a bit out of reach, since we like to romanticize everything anyway. The mythical Someday will never be what you imagined it to be, because in your dreamy projections, Someday holds no limits. I have limits here. My brain is still often fuzzy. I have a job in the real world that is lovely but consumes my energy and my brain – I can’t leave it behind at 5pm. I am tired when the winter sun tells me I should be tired – until 10am and after 4pm – which leaves me very few personal brain productivity hours, and none outside of work time. I still don’t know how to sit still without guilt, so I’m forcing myself to do absolutely nothing and work through my subsequent heart palpitations. I’m still learning what I’m like and what I do when I have no obligations, and when no one has expectations of me. All that to say that though I’ve been headed towards my mythical Someday, a deliberate time to work through the dreams I’ve always told myself I’d get to “Someday when my life allowed for it”, it is not as romantic or as lofty as it was in my projections. Which I knew I would discover…just as I knew I might discover the 6 things…but needed to experience first-hand. I needed to know what part of me operates in fairytale. And it’s been worth it.
It’s always worth it. Every moment is significant, every experience is valuable. I’ve realized over the last few weeks - as my body is becoming increasingly less tolerant of dark days and as the novelty of adventure wears thin as it grates against awareness of the geographical distance between me and the people that I know and love, and that know and love me – that I often try to be quite conclusive, reasonable, and constant in my feelings about things… when in all honesty I'm experiencing polarized emotions simultaneously. How can I love it so much here , and dream of all the amazing things that could come out of staying here indefinitely ….and the next moment be longing for my old community or for my family? For the mountains and the ocean? The answer is in reconciliation. Life and our feelings towards it are not cut and dry, black and white, crisp and clean. My pull in two opposite directions does not have to be contradictory. The fact that my Someday now occasionally shifts from Arctic back to West Coast does not negate my reasons for coming here in the first place, or make my love of life here less real, though I’d want to err on that side of thought when I’m in secondguessing mode. Hey, I’m only human. I will always sweeten the past and idealize the future…and take the present with a healthy dose of criticism. It’s what I do. So, then, I suppose that makes the present is the only real part. Which is why it’s worth it. I’ll take authenticity for 500 please, Alex. Ooooo...well, let’s make it a true daily double!
Every so often I function in fairytale – sipping wine, sampling dark chocolate, and nibbling on goat cheese while I wait to be handed inspiration on a silver platter, and dream of the day (er, the Someday) when it all falls into place. When my gifts and abilities make sense together. When I feel like my sense of purpose in my vocation is actually enough. When I find success in blazing some kind of sustainable grassroots artistic trail. But I won’t be disappointed for what I have not yet produced. Or what I have failed to live up to. I am more than the sum of my parts, I am far more than my job + my skills + my dreams. My identity is not threatened by failure, by inability, or by shame. I am a child of God. That’s what matters.
And I’m getting a better idea of how often I wait for mythical Somedays…and am reconciling myself to the fact that I always will. It’s who I am.
Unless of course, you (a living human being) give me deadline. Then I’m in like Flynn.