Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Open for Business

Forget safety
live where you fear to live
destroy your reputation
Be notorious

I have tried prudent planning
long enough.
From now
on, I'll be mad.

Last year, I discovered a list I made when I was very little--say 7 or 8 years old--detailing what I should do the next day.  It listed the hour to wake up, the time to get dressed, the window of time to eat breakfast in, and the time to go catch the bus.  I discovered this list in tandem with advice for the Pisces astrology group, of which I am a part, that Pisces should not overplan their days, as this stifles the innate creativity that is their primary guidance system. 

I go back and forth with this idea, because I am devoted to seeing the creative in all people.  As long as you are loving life, and intimately involved with whatever is unfolding around you, I don't see a need to discriminate between creative types and non. However, Pisces are described as highly intuitive types, and I think here is the necessary word difference.  I can say from experience that this sign sees best almost with their eyes closed.  Emotions are the guideposts as we edge our way along, often shyly, in the world. 

Upon discovering the list, I realized how long I have been trying to control my world. I have attempted this through scheduling, planning, rooting around in self-improvement schemes--generally all with limited, or tense, success. 

Along with my friend, with whom I shared an East Village apartment a few years out of college, I enjoy laughing at myself for the morning that I opened my bedroom door and stumbled upon a To-Do list that I had started the night before.  I had gotten as far as Get Dressed and stopped.  That pretty much summed up the state of my mind, then.  I was working as a temp, typing invoices at an office that had no ties to my literary ambitions, and I was sort of losing it. 

I mentioned in a previous post a desire to hide the details of my life because of anxiety about where my life was going.  But I had this brilliant little moment today, inspired by Byron Katie, who says things like, "How do I know I need to see my husband at the moment?  Because he just walked into the room."  This woman's message is of perpetual, radical acceptance. 

As my friend Dhara says, Why do we think reality is wrong just because we don't like it?  I have been thinking a lot about this, and trying it out.  When my dog scratches my leg incessantly and then walks to the door, guess what?  It's time to go outside.  When I see someone I don't particularly care for, heading straight for me on the sidewalk, guess what?  It's time to make peace.  It's time to speak to this person, openly, because they are showing me the reality of my life--that there are no enemies but those I create in my mind, and that there is some fear that I have buried inside, which is triggered in their presence.

So.  The big one: How do I know that I don't need a job right now?  Because I don't have one.  And how do I know that it's time to ask myself big questions about where I want to head in my life?  Because that's what I wake up thinking about. 

But panic doesn't have to be part of the equation.  I'm taking that out now, with a little help from teachers like Katie, and anxiety itself, which shows me when I have taken myself out of the present moment.  Worried about failure, do I feel the table that holds my arms and my computer, do I see the dog that makes me laugh out loud, do I remember the birds hopping around my lawn, who are digging up their own wonderful treasures in the world?  Am I meeting Reality, what is happening all around me, all the time--this beautiful gift that I don't have to do a thing to keep going?   

Isn't it great?  Even my spine stands up without me.  What am I so worried about?  I hereby declare life a worry-free zone.  Because whatever is happening needs to be.  Heart break, anxiety, death, illness...everything that I am afraid of still leads home.  And what is home? This is the question that I ask myself a lot these days, as my family and friends live their lives thousands of miles away.  But it's also the question I've been asking for most of my life.  Here is one answer, for today: Home is the seat of peace in the heart, the place where the mind opens and life sets up its real business.   

I will probably always make lists.  They help me organize my thoughts.  They help me see the unrealistic expectations I place on myself.  They help me, when I toss unfinished ones into the trash can, to let go the jailer in my mind.  But, as I make these lists now, I will ask myself, what am I planning for?  Do I trust myself to get dressed in the mornings, or do I still need to write that one down?

The best writing advice I ever heard was, Don't have a back-up plan.  Why would you plan for failure?  Just write.  And that's what I have the opportunity to do now, in my life.  Get Dressed.  Walk the Dog.  Write.  Why would I scheme up ways to worry about this most perfect present? 

To myself, and the places in us that worry, I say, the sky is not falling, Chicken Little!  Relax, have some fun.  No one needs you to hold up the sky.  Cut it out.  Take yourself out dancing.


  1. Gorgeous post! I especially love the reminder that what ever is happening right now is what we need to be doing and focusing our attention on. Brilliant! And such a great note for today...especially as I drive across the country and am totally anxious to get home rather than be here now in my Prius. Thanks for sharing this one!

  2. Hey Kate! I have been loving that reminder lately. It's so totally freeing. Blessings as you travel!

  3. Wow! I love this so much. Exactly what I needed to hear.