It’s Tuesday afternoon. I’m waiting for the proof of my book to arrive. It’s been a tense few days. I’d sent the book off at 3:45 last Thursday, declaring that I was ready to take a few days off while I waited for the proofs to be delivered by CreateSpace, Amazon’s on-demand publisher. With knowledge of Word and a techie friend who can design a cover, it’s fairly simple to publish a book these days. A few simple downloads and the book was on its way to the great digital reviewer in the cloud. A great sigh of relief and a lot of self-congratualtory pats on the back followed. I smiled a lot and felt very happy.
I decided I’d take a few days off, while I waited for the proof to arrive. I’ll do something else for a while, something else besides writing and thinking about writing, I thought, things I’d been putting off, like cleaning the bathroom and raking the leaves out of the flowerbeds and vegetable garden so I can get my planting done.
Friday, the first day off, and the weekend went by fairly quickly. The weather was nice and so Chuck and I got a lot of outdoor work done. Then Monday arrived and all of a sudden I felt groundless. After obligations were fulfilled, my usual writing time arrived and I didn’t know what to do. The allure of freedom from writing had worn off, but I felt like I had to uphold my intent to give myself a break.
Here it is Tuesday, and I’m still wandering around in the void of free time and so I’m writing this blog just to reground myself. It has to be done anyway, but on the other hand all of this wandering in the void that I’ve created gives me the opportunity to write about routine, how grounding it is, how safe it makes us feel, how important it is to who we are. Without it, I feel like a ship out of water!
When I was a full time freelance artist, I dreaded the lull between jobs. Not only was it financially stressful but I feared that I’d lose my creativity completely in those down times. I worried that I’d be unable to come up with an idea when the next job proposal came along. And so I’d keep multiple projects always going, making sure there was always an overlap so I’d never lose my creative edge. And so I never had free time either, or very little of it. I was always working in some way, keeping myself safe, because free time in the old days meant fears would seep in. It meant risking deeper depression and darker moods than normal, states that were very difficult to extricate myself from. I’m in a totally different place these days, in fact, I’m a totally different person. But I look back on the person I was with such fondness, for her ability to deal with the tension of living on the precipice of despair was impeccable.
These days, I’m a stranger to depression. It’s rare now, and so fear of depression wasn’t an issue as I faced the past few days. I didn’t worry about discipline either, for I am a very disciplined person. You can’t be a freelancer and not have discipline; your livelihood is totally in your own hands. Discipline however, involves routine, and so I come to this self-realization: I love routine! It’s so predictable. It makes life flow. It makes life so easy. I will do this and this and this, and then that will happen and that. What could be easier! But what could be more boring!
And so I face this boring truth about myself, while at the same time I look into the void of my empty writing time. I must fill it with something else! NO! I won’t. But then here I am, filling it. As I sit at my computer and write, I have to admit that my sense of groundlessness has dissipated. The void is fast receding, and yet I refuse to see this as routine—not me!
Yes, Jan, it is. I’m not letting myself sit in the lull that I’ve created by my intent to not do the routine. I’m not letting myself sit in the calm, in the moment of silence when the mind is still. When in the busyness of my routine I long for such moments. I long for the long meditation period, the calmness of a quiet day with nothing to do. I feel like I’m away on vacation and after two days I’m done, I’ve had enough. It’s time to leave. But I’m too far from home, committed, the vacation paid for and so I must stay. At times like these the challenge really is to let go, to push through the urge to jump up and go back to work and let the lull become important, sacred, and nurturing. We all need respite.
I can so easily lose sight of such basic human needs for rest and relaxation in the energy of the creative. And I think that’s what I’m dealing with right now, the energy of the creative, because although I didn’t consciously make certain that I had something to fill the gap while I wait for the proofs to arrive, my creative self stepped in and took over. Her old spot opened up and she grabbed the opportunity to reassert her priorities. Creativity runs deep, and so I acquiesce—for a little while. I realize that for some people having the free time to be creative is such a dream, while those of us who live it our whole lives might need a break from it every now and then, from the consuming fire of it. Just a little break.
Writing this blog doesn’t feel routine. I’m “not doing,” as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say—breaking the routine by doing things differently, or not at all—by writing on a different day than usual, and when I’m done I’m going to do something quiet, in alignment with my spirit asking for some attention. It’s time to reenter the void. Hmm, I’ve been yearning to learn a new song on the ukelele…
Just taking a small break from my beloved routine,
P.S. It looks like my book, The Edge of the Abyss – Volume 1, will be ready for ordering by the end of the week. I look forward to being able to post that announcement! Feel free to write reviews at Amazon and spread the word in other ways, if you feel that it’s right. One must be an Amazon customer to leave a review on the book page, I believe. I personally have such a hard time saying that I hope you’ll like the book knowing that it’s about such a difficult subject, but I really do hope you’ll all like it!