Thursday, January 15

living the dream, pt1

When I was younger, from about early teens to early 30's, I was impatient for life.

My upbringing instilled in me a sense of urgency. That life was fleeting, over-too-soon, and at risk of being wasted. In fact, it wasn't until my 30's that I finally made the connecton between insomnia and the need to be-part-of-it-all-in-case-I-miss-something.

You know how most kids don't want to go to bed, or leave the party, or stop playing a game, because it's just sooooo much fun? Well, it's like that but it's not about the fun of the Now, the way kids experience it. It's cemented in Fear. The fear of missing out, of not doing enough, of wasting my life.

We all have fears formed in childhood, whether we are aware of them or clear of what they are or not (perhaps I'll post about those one day?), and mine, one of mine, was this, the fear of regretting my life, the fear of not having done enough.

I used to believe this was a good way to live. That is, to live without regrets. To live life to the full so that when I looked back in my old age I would look back contented. But it isn't. It isn't a good way to live.

Because the propellant is Fear - I can never do enough, the grass is always greener on the other side, I'm more likely to start something than finish it, stress, burn-out, never satisfied, forever owning a state of anxiety that I should be doing something else. Perhaps worse than anxiety is a state of ennui.

Then one day. I gave up perfectionism. Another Fear. Just like that. I can't remember now the how or why of it. But when I saw it for what it was, I gave it up.

There would have been a time when blogging as I do now, as well as commenting on other blogs, would have been an anxious activity. I would have proofread my posts several times. Checking for grammatical and spelling mistakes, as well as questioning it's appeal or wittiness (that's not to say I don't check for mistakes now, it's just courtesy, but you understand what I mean). I would have done the same with comments, wondering if I said something really cool or interesting, or simply worth the blogger's time.

My moodboards would have taken hours. My blog photos would have taken hours to obtain the right one and to edit beyond perfection. If I shared them at all. I never would have shared my knitting mistakes.

I think one of the saddest things is that in trying to be all of ME, I was actually disconnected from me. Because what I was doing essentially, was living life so that others approved of it. The many choices I made (more in part2) seemed at the time to be for me, but were really about pleasing others, or being acceptable to others, or being admired by others, and on and on.... This is not an easy thing to admit to oneself. Lack of clarity, fear, stubborness, lack of self-awareness, Ego, are all great barriers.

In giving up perfectionism, I cleared a path to a place where being Superwhatever was no longer sensical. I realised that not only couldn't I do it all perfectly, I simply couldn't do it all. And so in this way, I gave up trying to Do everything and trying to Be everything.

What I had perceived as a lack of time was exactly that, a perception. If I only do what feels right (whether it's something joyful or a responsibility I have accepted) I have plenty of time. If I do only what I'm passionate about, I have MORE TIME THAN I NEED.

um.... wow

I had misinterpreted living life to the full.

Completely.

I had thought that every waking moment had to be filled doing something. I had thought that I had to prove my worth with status or a title (just one more course, honest) or a Really Respectable Job, or at least one that paid really darn well. I thought that I had to save the world. I thought that I had to know everything (yeah, good luck with that).

Now, my interpretation is very different.

Living life to the full means that I have passion, joy, or great enjoyment for the things I do choose to do.
It means that I can allow time to slip away, forgotten amongst the wanderings through brambles, and roots, and owl hoots, or with cuddling in bed, or with lullabies, or daydreaming.
It means that I make sure every person that I care about knows it. Truly knows it, no matter how embarrassing it might be to tell.
It means that I take chances if they feel right.
It means that I know when to let go, and do so with peace.
It means that what sort of person I am is more important than what I do.
It means that I recognise that Making a Difference can come in many shapes and sizes - some obnoxiously huge and some like almost imperceptible grains of sand.
It means that I embrace mistakes for their unique opportunity to learn something new, make a connection with someone, for allowing myself to live fearless, or simply because how bloody funny they can be.
It means that Following my Dream can be a very vague thing indeed. That it needn't be explainable to anyone. And that it can change.

It means that I live life rather than trying to make life happen.

15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Let me try again. :)
    What I said was that I'll be be back later to respond to this post, but that right now I was here to pass on a little award to you - its at OLM if you'd care to pick it up.

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  3. Very nice Mon. Your blog is now part of my daily surfing schedule...facebook, perezhilton.com (yup, a celebrity news junkie I am for various reasons), my email, cnn and repeat. I look forward to your posts and derive inspiration from them. Whether it's about life in Monty, baby time or subjects I have absolutely no interest in (ie. knitting or baking..ha!), I read them all and can relate on some level or just enjoy your prose. I'll miss you. Jenn xoxo

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  4. I know what you mean. In retrospect I realize that is what the 20s and early 30s are about, and I realize that most go through that ego to arrive at some sense of peace and balance later. But whew, it is a lot of effort and work getting through it all! ;) I like the calmer mental seas of 40s now. I definitely don't take everything soooooo seriously now. I like it.

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  5. Wow! I'll stick to that simple word for now...Wow!

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  6. A very moving post Mon and one I can relate to. I am 38 years old and it has taken me most of those years to realize many of the things you talk about in this post. I still struggle at times, but then I think... why I'm a struggling? I've never been happier than I am now, and I hope that continues through the years. I am glad you are following your dreams this way. May each day be bright for you.

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  7. Wow. That was a good read. It hit home with me. Strange how I just happened upon your blog and the topic was absolutely in sync with things I am dealing with now (perfectionism). Thanks for writing it. Probably helped more people than just me!

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  8. Fear is so insidious. I always think of this from Dune:

    "I must not fear.

    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain."

    And of course, Rudolf Steiner:

    "We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes towards Man, out of the future. We must acquire serenity in all feelings and sensations about the future. We must look forward with absolute equanimity to everything that may come. And we must think only that whatever comes is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom."

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  9. ooh nice Anthromama.

    Jen T, a big welcome to you.

    Sara - good thoughts, yes, we often slip back by thinking of it as a struggle.

    Jenn - will miss you too hun, but the Internet will always be ther for us!

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  10. Wow. This is a great post. Beautiful and moving. Loved it!

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  11. This is *so* what I needed to read right now!
    Thank you for a fantastic post :)

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  12. Such a beautiful post Mon! I certainly understand the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), it's always been there for me. Fear can be so insidious a thing.

    There's so much I want to say here, you have really got me wanting to write a post on this topic, (you have inspired me once again!), and what it has all meant for me personally. So I shall have ramble about it over in my little bloggage at some point.

    I do have a little sadness reading this, as much of what you describe your own life and choices is the life I used to have, and which I just naturally gravitated towards. But things took a different turn, and changed direction with the relationship I am in, and where I am living, and how I need to provide for others and survive in the world as a result of being in that place, and in that relationship. Your post reminds me that there is a way back home again.

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  13. Thank you and thanks to Lady Bug Zen that I found this post! Being in my late 20's I so relate to what you say esp. the first part of your post. I can understand and I strive to achieve the peace that you talk of in the second part but it's just a little out of my grasp at the moment. I guess this is what growing up is about ie, it takes time (years) for peaceful life to become you rather than be as an abstract concept out of reach! I feel I intellectualise wisdom but do not live it enough...
    Thank you (^_^)

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  14. Powerful! To be so connected to one's self, your honesty and truth are inspiring.
    Man, you can write girl. I'm off to read part deux now!

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