Saturday, September 1, 2012

Because I wished to live deliberately

I want to try to put into words what this past week/month/summer/year has been like for me, but it is a heavy task. I don't want to say it wrong, I want to do it justice. I am learning some very difficult lessons, and each day I have to remind myself of them so that I can make change, lasting change, in how I live my life. For so long I have not been deliberate, I have simply been floating along, deciding in the moment what to do, or obsessing late at night about what I should have done. Many spiritual teachings talk about being deliberate, acting with intention, rather than being impulsive, in a hurry, and reactionary. This pretty much sums up what I'm trying to do, only because I've been forced to slow down and change my routines, all of 'em pretty much: And of course, Thoreau:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

Where we live now the logistics are quite different from having my own apartment in an apartment building right smack dab in the downtown area of a small town. We are almost at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We are sleeping in a pop-up camper out in the yard, nestled in a circle of tall trees. It only takes a minute to walk from the camper to the house but in the middle of the night when it's raining, it's hard to make myself get up and go to the bathroom. So, I've been trying not to drink too much water after 8 or so (which is hard since my son nurses pretty much all night long). Then there's the well water issue. The well at the house is not dug deep enough so I have to count in my head how long I'm in the shower (limit to 2 or 3 minutes). The other night I shaved in the bathroom sink. Little things, but when you are neurotic like me, they seem big. BUT the act of slowing down, doing things purposefully, has already brought me joy. Last night I gave my son a bath in one of our laundry tubs (there's no bathtub at the house, just a standalone shower), and instead of running around doing things or watching tv or reading, I sat directly in front of him and was completely present in the moment. He started splashing and it would hit my face, arms, legs, and he would laugh hysterically, over and over. Instead of worrying that the floor was getting all wet, that my clothes were getting wet, I laughed with him and found joy in that moment. That simple moment.

Instead of sleepwalking through my life, always reacting to situations and not taking responsibility, I am on a mission to live with intention. The other part of this is relinquishing control (I know you're like, how can you act deliberately but not be in control of yourself??) What I mean is, giving up control over things and people that I have no control over. I can only control myself and my reactions. I cannot control my husband, my child, my friends, how much water is left in the morning for me to shower with, etc. Instead of losing it completely when something doesn't go the way I think it should, I am trying to accept it for what it is and keep on truckin. Again, it's all about the little things. Instead of hounding/nagging/watching/criticizing my husband when he's trying to do something, I just let him figure it out. I trust him that he will do the best he can, and also that he is capable of much much more than I have given him credit for. Another example. This morning we talked about taking out the cushion that has been our bed and bringing our mattress into the camper instead. I thought it would be nice to have something that's ours, that has our smell, that is familiar, and is more comfortable. So he said he would go get it from the other house and bring it over. I was like "How are you going to that by yourself????" and he said "I can do it." So I was sitting in my skeptical bubble but trusting that he was going to come through so I got the space ready and the door to the camper propped open. He comes around the corner with the mattress on the wheelbarrow. Awesome! I would never have thought of that. BUT there's a reason for that. I'm not supposed to think of everything, plan everything, do everything. I'm always harping that relationships should be partnerships, and about equality. A huge part of that is trust. I'm learning, my friends, slowly but surely.