How does your thinking constrain what you do? What might liberate your thought process in order to move into what’s being asked of you?
These are questions that I’m bringing to a client. Seems like asking them of myself is a pretty good idea.
A friend of mine had a baby in February. Both her and her partner have been off of work on maternity and paternity leave respectively — hers unpaid as she’s self employed, his is paid. Earlier today, she posted to social media how she realized they have had a blessing and a privilege in this time with their newborn, and how she was aware it would have to come to an end soon. It’s easier with two parents, she said. Though every baby should have three dedicated adults. That would make it manageable.
What strikes me is what I’ve come to see more and more clearly in my reading on trauma and grief: we aren’t wired for the nuclear family. We believe it is the natural order of things, but it’s not. We are actually wired for community, for a village. It’s in that environment that we would get the well-roundedness required to live full and healthy lives.
There’s been so much concern about the degradation of the family in our society, and little questioning if its actual structure. Perhaps we all need more dedicated humans in our lives. And to need each other.
Perhaps we need to see our families as more than blood.
Reaching beyond perfectionism
I’ve long been a perfectionist. Well, in some ways anyway — the most harmful ways, I’d say. I’ve got notebooks and notebooks full of things that I thought I’d want to make, things that I felt could change something, be meaningful, something. And none of them exist. I always figured I’d start when I figured it out. Of course, the figuring out happens in the doing, right? That’s what they tell you. It’s easier to put that on a t-shirt than it is to live it.
This space is one of the few exceptions. A bit over a year ago (one year and seven weeks ago, actually), I decided to post here every day for 30 days. And then I didn’t do that, but I committed to keeping the posts coming. I believe this will make post 307. Those posts include 30 poems written during this April’s #NaPoWriMo, so there are some overlaps (I kept posting other posts in April as well). But it’s still quite a bit of posting. I feel good about the quantity.
I don’t want to get too far into quality just yet. And that’s the point here. The quality is something that will come with time, and with, well, the lack of quality. My primary goal here at this point is to keep doing it. To keep showing up. To give myself the space most days to do this. I aim for a Sunday to Friday writing schedule. Sometimes, like yesterday, I forget Sunday. Sometimes, I forget — or can’t do — another day. It’s all good. I keep showing up.
So, what’s the point? Show up is the point. And make a mess. Fuck up. Let it be horrible. And then do the next one. And the next.
But there’s a larger point that I’m starting to get for myself — this doesn’t just apply to writing (or music, or pottery, or dancing, or computer programming, or whatever you are creating). It also applies to connecting with others. It’s so amazing to me how much my perfectionism has gotten in the way of my building community. It shouldn’t surprise me too much, I suppose. After all, it is the first characteristic of white supremacy as laid out on the linked website.
The folks at [Holistic Resistance[(https://www.holisticresistance.com) talk about reaching. We need to reach for each other. White folks, we need to reach for other white folks. There’s no way to undo racism if we don’t. And we need to reach for BIPOC folks. Cis folks, let’s reach for trans-folks. Left, let’s reach for right. Let’s reach.
Thing is, reaching is bound to be a mess. Reaching is bound to be painful. But reaching is our way through and beyond the perfectionism that’s got us in this holding pattern. A holding pattern where, every day, people are harmed.
Let’s reach. And let’s keep showing up.
Living with a wide-open net
It’s easy to assume that there is a need to drill down to something — one thing — that is tangible and actionable. That’s what the primary paradigm we live in tells us. But is it the only way?
What if ideas that come from living with a wide-open net can serve us in a different way? Can bring something different into the world? Perhaps, even, a different paradigm.
Let’s not simply assume that what is is what is — or, at least, what has to be. If you’ve got a pretty wide net, perhaps it’s something to celebrate. Or at least enjoy.
It’s Halloween — aka Samhain, All Hallowed Eve, and others. What we think of as a time for kids to dress up and threaten tricks for candy is much more than that to a lot of people. For centuries, in the northern hemisphere, it’s been seen as a time when the movement toward the world of the dead was possible. The veil thins, and we are able to connect with our ancestors who generally only live in our memories.
Whatever your take on this, perhaps we can all do with some reflection on where we’ve come from. Perhaps we could all take a few minutes to think about how that history (and the history of those who paved the way for us) has given us the opportunity to live the lives we have now. We don’t have to believe in spirits to learn from our ancestors. We don’t have to attend a seance to hear their messages — what they wanted for us.
Of course, we don’t have to reserve any of this for Halloween either. That said, I can’t think of a better time of year to be reminded.
Time well spent
I’m trying to remember where I first read this quote:
- You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all you desire.
- Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
I think there’s plenty to pick apart in this essay, but his point that the reason life feels short is that we spend our time focusing on things that don’t ultimately matter (to us) is pretty sound. We are given a good number of years. Which are made of months / weeks / days / hours. We have so many choices in how we spend that time. What would it look like to live like the mortals we are?