Spontaneity shared: three brief writings. I’m Over It!
You’re with five friends. You’ve just had a delicious and beautifully presented meal, over which you’ve caught up on each other’s lives since the holidays. Now is the time that all that was preparation for: You take out your notebooks and begin to write. A topic, chosen by the host, matches the tenor of the evening’s conversation. The timer is set. When it dings, you stop and share what you wrote. Tonight the topic is “I’m Over That!” With little hesitation, you dive in. Here is what some of you produce.
I’m over the Cinderella thing. After being a stepmother, I can’t believe that a wicked one is a good reason to hope for a prince. If I have the energy to go to a ball, I’ll stay out as late as I please. Being 55, I notice it’s not so pleasing to be out late.
I’m over thinking that eight glasses of water and an hour of heavy breathing a day keeps wrinkles and cellulite away. Aging is a well earned, magical process. The most luminous, sexy women I know have maps of wonder and delight around their eyes.
I’m over thinking that the well lived life is a tidy developmental map of accomplishments and relationships. The unforgettable life is chaotic and messy. Some of my best adventures have erupted from the garbage dump of my losses and betrayals. I agree with David Whyte that if you can see your life laid out before you, it’s not your life.
I’m over the waiting thing. You know—the “if only ‘he’ would…” My impatience is really my boredom with myself dressed up as resentment. I have better things to do, like paint the dignity in the eyes of an African woman, write a poem, sit on a red rock meditating, trek to a 17,000 ft. peak in Peru and say my prayers, stroke my dog’s belly, make soup for a passionate group of women, be open to the terrible beauty of being vulnerable to another, be of service in a world that needs me to wake up and show up….
I’m over thinking I know where I’m going and what makes me happy. Something greater than me is in charge of all that.
I have disengaged my driver—those dissatisfied, always-off-the-mark, you-should-look/be/do/not do/say/not say impossible-to-please toxic introjections that disturbed my days, haunted my dreams, and perpetuated, as Tara Brach writes, “a trance of unworthiness.” Also, as Marion Woodman suggests, “…unable to countenance failure to the point of rejecting life,” I have stalled, stopped, avoided, left-turned and stayed silent.
Last night I lay in bed reading an article in Smithsonian Magazine (October 2006) about the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama who are making these fabulous, free-form, hand sewn quilts which are selling for large sums of money and being purchased by museums. No perfectionist patterns—just soulful shapes, lines, colors and textures. As I survey my own history there are many, many memories of my driver driving my actions and reactions. One of those is of me trying to sew a tiger costume for my son who was in a school play the next day. Late at night, I grew more frustrated and angry as I repeatedly tore out the stitches in the stripes of ribbon that were not in absolute alignment. Standing behind me my young daughter quietly said, with the saddest face, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, Mom.”
Now I am choosing crazy quilts, gentle encouragements and compassionate coaching. In this moment I am OK; in this moment I am OK; and in this moment I am OK.
Okay, I’m finally over it. I will never climb Mt. Everest. I know this comes as a great surprise to those who know me. But seriously, I always thought I was supposed to be athletic. Hiking boots, backpacks, bicycles—I imagined myself in Jansport and Kelty, Columbia and Merrell. It just never worked out. I cycled up a hill and then had to throw up; I backpacked with a friend and scarcely made it across a log over a raging river.
I tried. Honestly, I did. My big epiphany came on my second multi-family bicycle trip on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands. For me, the cycling was a painful experience, preventing me from even enjoying the amazing landscape through which I was traveling. I pretended it was wonderful; I tried to like it. But when it was my turn to drive the 4-wheel as support, I woke up. Turning up the music in that big SUV and working my way up the hogback…well, it was a blast! I loved it—all by myself in the middle of canyon country with a legitimate internal combustion machine and my flask of tequila and a pack of cigarettes….life doesn’t get much better.
Unless it’s staying at home in my p.j.’s all day, puttering around my house, reading and never, never having to go outside if I don’t want to…well, that’s pretty great, too.
I accept my indoor slug and sloth-like nesting with all my heart. It feels good to be true to my nature. Everest will have to wait for another lifetime.
—Paula Volpin Evershed