Mid-January. Rainy. A little fatter than a month ago. A little colder. Still not quite back in the routine. But done with the holidays. Still eating too much candy. But exercising again.
I’m in between.
Life is made up of these spaces. There’s nothing particular happening. There’s nothing particular to look forward to yet. There’s no particular rhythm.
And it’s so easy to stay here...to just get stuck on good enough. Yesterday in yoga she set the intention as being kind to ourselves. It’s a great principle. But what if being kind to ourselves involves some tough love? What if doing the best thing is pushing a little harder? How do we know the right balance?
I got some stellar time with my fabulous niece last week. I stayed up way, way too late and ate way, way too many truffles, but it was spectacular. She’s radiant in her brokenness. She hasn’t quite gotten it, but she’s close. She’s almost on the cusp of realizing that she’s amazing as she is. I wish I’d figured it out at her age. And I mean even with all the selfishness and the sometimes meanness and the bad decisions. I can see it. I can see how who she is has made the rest of the family deal with things or be things they might not have been or done. It feels like badness when you’re the one who’s the troublemaker. It feels like you’re always sinking ships. I know. I’ve sunk a few. But sometimes ships need to sink for people to learn how to make them better.
I decided, all of a sudden, a few months ago, to just stop worrying about my body. I know it sounds impossible. But somehow, with all these people around me fighting for their lives it just suddenly made sense that worrying about being perfect and having some idea of a perfect body and striving for that was just a total and complete waste of my time on this blue dot. It seemed like I looked down and realized I was carrying fistfuls of sand around for no reason. I’d been clinging to it like my life depended on it. And I just suddenly saw it. This is fucking sand!!! What the hell have I been doing?
So, we know perfection is a stupid goal. We know whatever we decide is perfect is probably just our idea of what we think others will think is perfect. We kind of know that all along. But we ache with desire to be it and live with dissatisfaction that we’re not there.
In my conversation with my niece we were talking about guilt and the desire to do what is right and living with the anxiety of not knowing. What is the right path? Which is the best way? What am I supposed to do?
And we just end up in-between.
But, that is also a choice.
And, you know what, it is also the right choice.
I go through periods of sadness over that “road not taken” when I hear about friends working in the arts or see a great play or a moving sculpture. I get creativity pangs. And then I beat myself up and feel fatalistic about the future and my wasted life, etc., etc.
But Marco reminds me that if I hadn’t dropped out of college and gotten a random job and been living my life fast and loose I wouldn’t have met him or hung out with him every day or ended up living with him and ended up falling in love and getting married and building this amazing life. If I’d gotten my art self together I would be probably living half-broke somewhere without him and without this house and without these three people. Or I’d be super-rich, highly successful and sought after the world over. Which would be cool, but it would not be as cool as what have here.
Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is often seen as having the message of taking “the road less taken,” and making people think that the point is to go your own way and that there is a “right” way to go and that the right way to go is forging ahead on that less-taken path. But the truth is, “both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.” The truth is that Frost just made a damn choice, knowing he would never get to make the same choice again, and making the choice was what made all the difference. Either way would have been right.
So, here I am, in the in-between place, feeling guilty about being sort of stagnant. Here I am trying to motivate myself to feel more driven, push harder, do more. I’m deceiving myself into thinking that there is a right path to choose.
But sometimes, when you’re in between poses, when you’ve been down on the ground doing lunges and then you stand up, you get lightheaded. And sometimes you have to come up slowly. Sometimes you have to take deep breaths. Sometimes the transitions don’t come so easily and you sway a little and maybe even fall down. Sometimes you are so tired from no sleep and weird schedules and too much work and people you love being sick and winter darkening your spirit. And you just have to inch your way along.
Oh I see both paths, but I’m just going to sit right down in these leaves and maybe cry a little and maybe take a nap and maybe kick a tree or maybe yell. Or just take some deep breaths and be okay with this place. And then I’ll get off my duff. And my poem will say that resting made all the difference.