Here is it nearly mid-February.
As 2016 came to a close, I planned to write an end of year blog. I didn’t.
On New Year’s Eve, I considered writing the cliché ‘beginning of year’ blog. Then I didn’t write one.
I justified my blogging lapse with the reality that tons of folks write such posts at those times, so mine would be redundant. Justification or insecurity of getting lost in the masses… six of one, half a dozen of the other….or just plain busy. Or maybe it just wasn’t time. Yet.
Closing in on about a month ago, in mid-January, was my birthday. A personal new year. Another possibly relevant date to overshare some introspective musings.
I did not.
It was not time. Not yet.
I am a scheduler, a planner. By necessity, not for sport. My world may appear small from an external perspective and certainly to anyone with a visibly vast life, but there is a lot that I must juggle. We rarely remember that we do not see a person’s responsibilities, nor their aspirations and dreams in process, when we glance at them and assess. Scheduling, precision with time, is, to my limited estimation, my best shot at not letting anything or anyone fall between the cracks. It is therefore more than a tad ironic that with such a time and detail focus, the ‘right time’ has been an intangible mainstay belief and integral part of who I am. What can I say? I’m more than a bit of a challenge to ‘get’ on the fly.
What makes it ‘time’? Clearly it is not rigidly based on the clocked, logged, calendared, scribed beginnings and endings. It is about when it just IS time. That feeling that is deeper than desire, more insistent than need, and that overrides all mundane reasons why or why not. The time when busy or not, even with no foreseeable way in sight, we just do it. Because it is time. Even if we have no clue why.
If I had written a blog at end of year or start of year or personal year, I would have focused on what deems someone or something worthy….in general and specifically of our time and focus.
We all have criteria and standards for what we choose to spend our time on, what we apply our energy and attention to, and who we keep in our personal sphere of focus. Confusion, overwhelm, and absolute inefficiency reign when we do not make these discerning calls as life comes at us. Paradoxically, this is also how we miss out on a lot. We miss connecting with people, we miss opportunities, we miss unexpected laughter and inspiration – be it our own or that which we are for someone else.
The down side, the missing out, is not due to not being able to do it all, but rather our discernment process, what our filters are.
If we keep them all factual, all from and in the head (as I am prone to do), we miss out. Plainly stated, sometimes you have to follow your gut… or at least acknowledge that when the same bird flies across your line of vision, it is important to stop, whistle at it, and feed it. (where do these odd and random examples come from!??! Oh well – just going to walk my talk here and go with the flow). Essentially, we filter – read and understand that to be ‘judge and label’ – using the facts we have (or think we have). It is rare that we prioritize what we feel inexplicably pulled to do, or even more rarely, what keeps popping up insistently, as if – dare we say it – there is real and valid reason.
We cannot do everything, talk with everyone, be everywhere. We all have responsibilities, and wants, and needs that are clear. Those come first, and second, and third. But does that mean that we never find some miraculous way to squeeze in one of these ethereally insistent (not so) extras?!?!
I am not chatty. I seem to be missing the small talk chromosome or something along those lines. Odd since I am verbose to a nearly obnoxious degree, and I truly enjoy and cherish real conversations. (Side note: Real does not always mean heavy and intense, just as serious does not mean boring. One can have a real FUN conversation and know how to have a SERIOUSLY great time. Ok nerdy bookish librarian chick disclaimer over. Now back to my regularly verbose blog.) That being said, there are times when I am pulled, straining against comfort levels, opposing logic and interest, to talk to someone. Sometimes the reason becomes clear straight off… and other times it has surfaced much later, much to the tune of ‘oh so THAT was why’.
Had I not paid attention, followed that intangible and insistent beckoning pull, I would have missed out on learning and experiencing some things I didn’t even know I needed and wanted to be aware of.
The coffee with a client, that I tried to avoid, concerned it would start blurring professional boundaries with socializing….made so many lightbulbs go off in my head it was like a Christmas tree. It isn’t always what the person says per se, but rather what it sets in motion in your own head.
The bag boy at Ralph’s in West Hollywood that would switch with his coworkers and come work the lane I was checking out in….and ask EVERY time if I needed help to my car. Sounds flattering or creepy… but was neither. He had overheard me chatting with someone once about a serious social topic (that was his phrase) and wanted to discuss it with me. This young man had lived on the streets for a few years when he first came to Los Angeles, and now that his daily life was improved and more stable, he was doing his best to help his ‘peers on the street’. Specifically, he and his roommates patrol certain areas to try and prevent sexual assault in ‘mostly young teens and the elderly’ homeless who live on the streets. He wanted to know how to get others involved, were there groups that did this that they could join forces with, etc.. Had I not finally said sure, I could use help to the car (which I did not actually need), I would never have met this amazing young man, and would never have started our now ongoing research and discussion on this crucial issue.
We all have such stories – big and small – and yet we still postpone, don’t prioritize, or worst of all we fully dismiss. We check our schedule, our to do lists… and then go from there. We need to go from the gut or at least trust that there is a reason for what we keep tripping over as we walk through life.
This intangible, almost quicksand like, instinct based decision making, can feel impulsive, wasteful, and other similar, undesirable feelings. When do we listen? I say we listen to our instinct each and every time, because in actuality, we are not always internally driven to follow through on every request. Just like sometimes someone asks and lets it go when we decline, sometimes they persist. When someone or something perseveres, sure maybe they are just a stubborn pain in the ass, but maybe, THEY have that gut feeling and so they won’t let go, and the way we get to know that this is a ‘yes’ instead of a ‘no’ is by its constant resurfacing to us. We get it as repeated opportunity, and they get it as ‘too important to let go of’ instinct. Much like the young man at the grocery store. We can always think we see and thereby ascribe sycophantic or creepy or agenda serving reasons to the person asking. Just because it can be a cliché does not mean it is. Sometimes even if it is indeed a clichéd reason, maybe there is still an important reason in it for us, or for us to be catalyst to for others. It may not click till later, it may be the color of a butterfly you watch during a boring cup of coffee that months later inspires a poem or painting or photograph series. Maybe it is someone’s story, their questions… that make you think or feel, or ask or clarify in ways you otherwise would not have. For yourself. For them. For … life. What we each do in our lives, how we each expand in experience, is part of the world as a whole. It may feel like a dull 30 minutes at Starbuck’s from which you can harvest a silver lining ideal, but nothing occurs in a vacuum, all has a farther reaching ripple effect. Sounds like a bunch of buzz phrases strung together to insinuate importance….doesn’t mean it isn’t so.
We never know who we can create with or learn from….even if the lesson is how to gracefully handle a boring waste of time wrong turn.
We often don’t feel ready to ask, to keep asking, or even to answer yes to a received request. We want to accomplish more, fine tune our project, ‘have the time’, lose 20 pounds… etc etc.. before we do so. There is no ready. There is truly just being ourselves. We – as we are – be it busy, be it antisocial, be it self conscious, be it even disinterested – it is us as we are right now that received the request, or are still getting the cosmic reminders.
How did I segue from it being the ‘right time’ to ‘what is worth our time’, and now to being oneself?
Patience… you will see soon. It isn’t time… yet.
If the intangible thread is connection – the unseen how or why or even when – then we have to be ourselves, for US to connect with whom/whatever we are seeking. If we are not feeling or being ourselves then we make it ‘not be time yet’. We are actually the delaying or deterring factor. If we aren’t ourselves then how can even, or especially, someone’s gut feel into it and deem us worthy? We have to be ourselves.
Many things can make us feel…and even be… off our own track. Illness, divorce, change in career, death of someone important to us. Life can take our FULL self to just ‘get through’ – not just all the hands on, busy, time consuming task level of it all. Not just the work hard to earn the money to buy the food to take it home and cook it and feed to the kids… and then Dear Lord there are now dirty dishes to wash, how can I take one more step I am so exhausted … not even that kind of life survival day to day process. Life, especially a mindful life, can be a real mindfuck if we let it be. Betrayals, losses, our own poor choices – even if they were the best choices at the time, can be a rigorous workout for those determined to not turn bitter or insane. For those sensitive, aware, creative, the world is an exquisite and also very harsh experience. The see it all, feel it all, so much empathically so that you can embody it and recreate it for others in another form….. well that’s a LOT to handle. (A side note on poor choices.. just because others perceive you as weak, stupid, guilty, ridiculous, or any other negative thing, for the choices you made, does not make you so. Doesn’t mean you were right to wrong, but even right choices can suck, and weathering criticism, slander, and just general social bullshittery with silence and grace, with dignity, and a priority for peace and sanity, can be a royal bitch. Still worth it. Standards. Set them, raise them, adhere to them. Fuck the naysayers.)
For me it was back to back and overlapping life things, and some health things, and then even as they subsided, being in the wrung out, feeling ill and being legit weakened state, dragging through calmer days was just about as strenuous as the harsher patches. Then try and get me to take a minute to take care of myself…. HA! Good Luck on that one. There is so much to do, so much that I am responsible for, must do, want to do, need to do….No I don’t mean this vapid ‘me time’ concept of spa and nail salon externals.. I mean, just try and get me to sleep as much as I should or tend to my health, or…. Apparently I am more stubborn and task focused than I am practical and sane.
(And here Ladies and Gents is where it all ties in… so put down the popcorn and grab a pen… well just pay attention is all…)
When I felt that ‘pull’ – that ‘these conversations must happen’ , that ‘these projects MUST be created’ , that ‘this IS what it is all about’ feeling… I felt it… but I wasn’t feeling me… and so despite sanctity and serendipity on some levels…. I made it not be ‘the right time’.
Conversations were had, events were attended, words were exchanged (some nice, some not), segments of silence deafened….
And as I agonized over BOTH requests I had received… and some I had made… I realized that until I saw ME in the mirror (not the shallow way – think more Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ way), FELT like me as I read and wrote and cooked and ran and drank and wrote and ran and drank some more…. until I was ME… I could not be MY part of connecting with THEM… even if I don’t know the why or how or when.
So many times, we look at the logic (see? Back to the beginning concepts) and exert effort into making something happen and it just isn’t time yet (and therefore it doesn’t happen – yet) because what we SHOULD be doing is exerting and investing that effort into BEING ready. Not perfect, just ready, just ourselves.
So after some life shifts, big decisions, and a rather fabulous round of oral surgery….I’m at least more me than I have been in literally, years. Those who know me, can see it. Those who have only briefly encountered and think they have an idea of me and who I am… yeah, no, sorry Cookie…that version of me was a weak ailing wave through a smudgy window… wait till you get to know the real deal. Nothing spectacular, just not limited to your thus far perceptions.
It is time (for ALL OF US) to stop assuming we aren’t worth the time – or that someone else is not – based on how expansive and extraordinary they or their life is, or how small we perceive our own expansive life to be. Measuring of worthiness by perception alone is a discredit to both sides of the weigh-in scenario. Maybe a moment in time is just a nice moment in time, and maybe it can be something unforeseen and fantastical.
I look more like myself again... most importantly TO myself.
My writing sounds like me again....not hyper-edited into bland verbal mass... but really... like me.
It is time to take a second run at that screenplay (a format I am VERY uncomfortable and fairly crap, at writing in).
It is time to finalize edits of text and cover art, and publish ‘this damn book’.
It is time to present my business how I am inspired to (screw restrictions of marketing manuals and social pressures).
It is time to plan and not just dream of moving to where my soul has always felt at home.
It is time to write and write … and edit and revise and then freaking release, the letters, the book (the original one, set to roll out before ‘this damn book’ rudely upset that apple cart), the … well you will see…
It is time to take the little bits I do towards issues a
nd challenges that society faces, locally and more globally…. Tis time to make that work have more impact – brainstorm with the right people, apply the ideas…help, make change, include, and make a difference.
It now – right now – is time for me to go wrap a birthday present for a very special someone….. #21
And finally… it is time for coffee.
So yes... timing is everything... and nothing. ;)
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