The good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.
Hard to believe, but I’ve now completed three months of Meaning Mondays. Wow. That went by fast.
Meeting up with myself for a quick check-in, I notice these Monday rambles have taken me off the beaten path. Or at least beyond where I expected to go initially. And when I donned my explorer’s cap back in January, I had no idea I would be pulled toward the meaning making experiences that have shown up here.
Things like purposeless play. Tea pots and rituals. The wisdom of old movies. Mask making. Birthdays. Robert Bly and the mythopoetic men’s movement. Cloud gazing and overwork. Singing my way through my life.
And time. I can’t forget my experiments with time.
Because as much as my meaning making radar has been fine-tuned by this experience, the through-line of the story so far is time. Although perhaps not in the way you might think, not the story we hear so often: the she-got-better-at-managing-her-time-and-using-it-wisely story.
No, in the end, it’s not about managing time or making time or even finding time to live a more meaning centered life.
What’s required is taking the time.
Grabbing it. Seizing the day, as it were. Fiercely.
As I was reflecting on this lesson (that I need to keep learning again and again), the April edition of Sunset magazine arrived in my mail box. Flipping through it, I stopped at an article by Anne Lamott, she of Bird by Bird fame (as well as many others). And Ms. Lamott’s hard-won wisdom reminded me that I’m not the only one needing to remember this lesson about time.
Just consider what she says to her students about what gets in the way of seizing time:
This means you have to grasp that your manic forms of connectivity – cell phone, email, text, Twitter – steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life. That a close friendship is worth more than material success…I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life span in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement,…will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?…I ask them, is there a eucalyptus grove at the end of their street, or a new exhibit at the art museum? An upcoming minus tide at the beach where the agates and tidepools are, or a great poet coming to the library?…If so, what manic or compulsive hours will they give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or meander? Time is not free – that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.
So this week, I’m unhooking from my own manic connectivity, off to meander at the tiny place in Sonoma County I’ve told you about before. Which means I’ll be absent for the next week.
That has activated the good student inside of me. In fact, she’s been telling me what’s expected of me now.
“Take care of your readers,” she says. “Leave links to past posts.” Then she goes on and on, explaining which ones are link-worthy.
Just when I think she’s done lecturing me, she adds, “And don’t forget to spread the love. Create a list of other writers so your readers can visit them while you’re gone.”
Yes, these are smart strategies. But you know what? I don’t always like to do the smart thing.
So instead of asking you to click over to somewhere else right now, I’m asking you not to click at all.
In fact, I’m asking you to do something radical.
Turn off the computer. (Or Blackberry. iPhone. Whatever.)
Then make a commitment to spend an hour less of your precious time online this week. Go visit the eucalyptus grove or the tidepools or the poet. Or do whatever other delicious thing is begging for your time.
And just to make it easier for you, I’ve turned off comments.
So what are you waiting for? The coast is clear. Get out of here.