If you’ve been around here for a little while, you’ve probably encountered some of my “struggles.” This year, and most of last, I’ve been “struggling” to find my way, “struggling” to find time, “struggling” to write. (You might’ve even seen me mention this last week.) I’ve been bulldozing my way through life. I’ve been pushing myself almost beyond my limits and I’ve been treating my current life like it’s just something I need to overcome, something I need to get through to move onto the thing that is next, the thing that is better.
I usually try to sit quietly for several minutes in the morning when I first wake up to focus on breathing and listen to how my body feels that day. One day last week, as I was sitting on my bed when I first woke up, a word came to me out of nowhere. And that word, strangely, was “gentle.” In the next few minutes, several things unraveled for me. I realized that I had been pushing my way through everything I do, forcing things to fit and getting frustrated more often than I needed to. I was not being “gentle” with anything. Not with the way I treated myself, not with the way I treated my friends, not with the way I treated my life.
Because the thing is this. I am where I am and there’s not a whole lot I can do to immediately change it. I don’t have total control over what my job is, over how much time I have to work on the things that I really love, over where I live, or over the trips that I can afford to take.
But what I do have control over is this — my attitude. I can force my way through life, screaming and kicking and struggling and forcing things and getting angry at everything. Or — I can be gentle. I can accept things for what they are. When I make phone calls at work I can be kind to the person on the other end of the phone, even if they’re being shitty. And I can be kind to myself, too, when I make mistakes. Because what’s the big deal? It’s just work. It’s not anything more than my job. Why do I have to go into every day with the attitude that I hate a large chunk of my life?
Or any other part of my life, for that matter.
That day, when I went into work, I focused on coming at life with a more gentle perspective. I let go of things that would have annoyed me the day before. I let go of the idea that I should go home and spend another 8 hours working on my own work, unless I felt I had the energy to do so. I let go of the struggle. I gave it up.
And it changed a lot of things. Mostly, my perspective.
Not everything has to be hard. I’m actually not a starving artist. I’m an artist with a job and two very generous parents who have let me stay at home the last few years while I went to grad school and was unemployed. I own a car. I can travel, even if it’s smaller trips than I want to take. I have a big, beautiful, supportive family. I have so many friends, friends that make every single day of my life better.
I needed to start looking at my life for what it was — lucky, privileged, safe, happy, beautiful.
And when I saw it for what it was, I started feeling a lot better about the things in my life right now. Not just the things that are on their way, but the things that I can hold and grasp right in this moment.