My friend is a part of a Women’s Writing Workshop. Every February they host prompts for a workshop where the goal is to write every day for a month. Whether you write a few sentences, a poem, a blog post, a short story, a journal entry - just write.
It’s been too long since I have typed my thoughts. These days I fall back to pen and notebook, if I find the time to write at all.
We are beginning this week by talking about the things we want most. What is it you long for? People, places, things, feelings, states of mind–things you lost or things you have yet to find?
What I want the most is space and time. Space to fill my days with the things I truly want to do, thoughts I truly want to think. Time to figure out what the answers to both of those questions are. I’m trying to re-train myself to focus on these simple and yet not at-all-simple pursuits. If I’m honest with myself, what I really long for, have been longing for, are answers. Endings. Arrivals.
I long, too much I think, for the destination. I spend so much time thinking about where I need to get and what it will be like when I get there, that I forget to soak in the present. At this point in my life, along with most of the people I know, we’re trying to figure out what’s next. Those “what am I supposed to be doing with my life” thoughts persist even when those wiser insist they still don’t know, that you don’t have to know. But we still want to. We’re stubborn and ambitious and scared and impatient. A good friend reminded me the other day of something I told her when she was unhappy in her job. I told her to take this as a good thing, as a sign that she will keep pushing. I told her that successful people are never satisfied. Now, writing those words, I hope nothing more than that I was terribly wrong.
I realized the other day how little mental energy I spend in the past - and not much more in the present. I’m a planner. I make lists in my head, fixate on what might happen, what should happen, what I fear happening. I live in a world of “what ifs”, of memories of the future. They say that depression is dwelling on thoughts of the past, and anxiety is fixation on the future. As someone definitely not immune to anxious thoughts, that hot feeling that pushes through my blood as I discover a worry, those circular turned maddening thoughts, I know this to be true.
Conversely, I find the reverse to be true. When I to actually try to not only remember but to focus on the past, I am calmed. The thoughts that are easiest to call upon turn out to be the good things. Silly memories from growing up, soul-strengthening conversations with girlfriends, times when I accomplished feats I feared i would fail.
So this is where I’m starting. Reversing the direction of those long spaces in your mind where you can choose to worry, remember or to simply accept. The goal is to come almost full circle, and to meet myself in the present. This is the hardest, and I think this is true for most people. Meditation is the purest form, but there is also the ongoing state of being where you let yourself slow down a bit in between (or during) activities, and appreciate. I’m doing this more and more these days. I finished a great book the other day, a memoir about a woman struggling and dealing with all of life’s challenges that just seem to feel… so universally female. I’m now finding myself repeating a mantra inside my head from those pages:
Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Accept.