It's Here! It's Now!

March 27, 2014

I've had a long-time bad habit of waiting for all of the pieces to come together before I can rest, relax, enjoy myself, and feel satisfied. I've kept waiting for the perfect moment, which I often say will happen:

-When I get a grant.
-After I quit my job.
-When I find the job.
-When my numerous commitments are over.
-When we move.
-After the show.
-When I have more money.
-When I'm more rested.
-When we get to go on vacation.

Surprise, surprise: this utopian moment of perfection never actually happens. I've rarely found a time when every single factor in my life knits together just right, without finding myself nitpicking at the details and wanting a bit more. Contentment has always been hard for me-- something I'm certainly not proud of. 

I feel very lucky that the circumstances of the last year have been helping me to learn that contentment is an inside process. It can be found in the most jagged, awful moments, when the project is in an uncertain mishmash, and when the house is half-way put together. Contentment isn't black and white, it's way-the-heck-grey; It happens right now.

It's one thing to make a blanket proclamation that YOU'RE GOING TO BE CONTENT! But what does that mean or look like? I've been thinking of three things in particular:

1) Hyper-presence: The last few months have been a great exercise in presence, because so damn much has been going on. Our transition (specifically regarding our living situation, my job, and the Small Dances process) has been going on for months. Realistically, aren't most of us always transitioning a little bit? I've made every effort to stop thinking about to the future and to stop waiting for life to feel more settled. I can enjoy our house when it's half-way through a paint project. I can spent the weekend finishing business taxes and still enjoy myself.

2) Stop the perfectionism: Part of enjoying things right now (and not later when they're perfect) involves letting go of a certain amount of control freak-dom. Transitioning to a new job has meant telling old clients that I'm running a few days behind on their project. I've realized that we can have friends over before our house looks just right, and I can write in this space without coming up with a brilliant idea for a post (or resizing the photos). I've dropped the ball on a lot of plans and on seeing a lot of friends' performances while I've been figuring out how to put daily life together, and I'm pretty sure that it's going to be ok.

3) Make micro-changes: My brain can be frustratingly black and white, and when something in life isn't working, I want to chuck it out the door and try something new. I've been thinking a lot about how most things aren't all or nothing: If I'm too busy to take a class at the YWCA, I still probably have time for a 20 minute walk; maybe I don't have the creative outlet of rehearsal, but I can start the day with morning pages; I don't work with Ben during the day anymore, but we can meet for lunch, etc, etc... Most life elements can wiggle and shift around without requiring a total change. (I think about this a lot for clients and friends who are hoping to transition from 9-5 work to self-employment-- what's the micro-change before you make the big change?)

I posted these photos because they reminded me of the in-between-ness: beautiful flowers from my friend Katie that made me so happy, even when our one-day-moved-into house was a huge mess; a photo of our newly painted teal wall (which I love!), surrounded by unpacked boxes and windex and catnip. Sounds about right. I don't want to wait for everything to lock perfectly into place-- it's unrealistic and exhausting to continually strive for. I'd so much rather teach myself comfort with the grey places, which is probably a skill that will take a lifetime to cultivate. It's a worthy challenge.


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