Until very recently I used to make sure that I had plans for a day or a weekend off. I always had to be doing something outside of the house. Errands to run, people to meet – something needed to occupy my time. I just realized yesterday how excited I was to not have any plans to go anywhere for today. I thought this was a good sign.
But then I realized that I still had plans. Make hummus and pesto. Work on the condensed Gospel (still an active project). Make jewelry. Paint my toenails. Write. Cook supper. Organize the fridge.
I realized that I was still packing my day full of stuff. The only difference was that I wasn’t going anywhere.
I know some of my need to stay busy has to do with my awareness of time, and how little of it there is available to us in our lives. I know some of it is my realization that if I don’t keep up some level of activity then depression will sneak in and set up camp. But this need to stay busy busy busy is in itself a symptom of a deeper problem.
Being still is, at the heart of it all, being alone. Deep down, I don’t like to be alone. Thus, deep down, I’m not comfortable with myself.
This is hard to admit, and hard to live with.
It, in itself, isn’t a bad thing. Different ways of living are just as valid as having different hair colors or textures. Different isn’t bad or good. It is just different.
What matters is that I am conscious of it, and aware. Do I let this way of being rule my actions? Do I let it decide for me what I am going to do? Do I live my life by reflex, on autopilot? To unconsciously act, whether directed by a crowd or an unnoticed impulse, is the same. It is, at the heart, to not be fully alive but to have your actions taken out of your control.
My need to stay busy is a need to fill up my time and my head with stuff. It is a need to get away from myself, even if I am the only person in the room.
There is strength in being independent. I’ve gained a real sense of power from preparing food for myself and my husband. I’ve also learned valuable lessons about myself and about life from doing this.
But still, even in this lesson, I’ve not really been awake. It is still a method to stay busy, and thus ultimately stay distracted.
I’ve heard “Hell is other people.” Perhaps for me, right now, hell is myself.
I don’t hate myself, not at all. That isn’t it. I have a good life and I’m grateful for my many blessings. But if I still feel empty in the midst of busyness, then something is wrong. My plan for this past year or so has been to uncover, and recover. It has been to dig up and dig out. Simultaneously I have been reforming and recreating myself by becoming more aware and awake.
Some of this is teaching me to be more conscious, while some of this is teaching me to let go. Some of it is about living in the moment as completely as possible. Some of it is about seeing the path ahead and planning wisely. And some of it is just simply about learning to be me.
You’d think I’d know how to do this by now. I’ve had 45 years to practice. But not really. For many of those years I wasn’t really awake, and that isn’t even including the years I spent in a pot-cloud. Or grieving. Or both. I’ve spent a long time running away from myself. Now that I’m conscious, I feel I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
And that is part of it too. Being patient with myself, in the middle, in the mess. Being patient, and knowing that this is where I need to be, and who I need to be right now.