In a 2015 book called A Year Without Fear, by Tama Kieves, I chanced upon July 28th entry, which states: “Don’t seek to be inspired. Seek to be present and kind. When you’re not feeling purposeful or excited, take the pressure off. It’s okay if you lay on this couch for a thousand years. It’s okay if you don’t want to say anything profound, back away at creating a fortune, or save the whales. It’s okay to feel like a whale. It’s okay to breathe. It’s okay to recollect yourself, integrate where you’ve been. It’s necessary. Blank space is holy. Your excitement finds you naturally. Your true nature is purposeful. It is your birthright to shine. Today I release myself from the pressure to shine.”
For years I did not believe that passage at all. I did not believe that I deserved rest and relaxation from my work. After all, I wasn’t being published — save for the occasional features article in a local newspaper, and writing only sporadically (before Medium with my regular blogging) I didn’t feel as if I was living up to … what? My potential? My longing? My heritage of hard-working people? Whatever it was, I was not living up to it. The pressure inside of me to live up to those expectations and ideals was getting to a boiling point, and it was becoming uncomfortable to be living inside of my own skin.
Now, I have come to accept that I am not going to be as driven as other folks, even folks in my own family. I have come to accept that just because I am not a workaholic, doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve a respite — some rest and relaxation. But I refuse to accept that I can’t change, if change is warranted — if change is needed.
Honestly, I hate change. I fear it. But it is one of the few constants in life, and not all change is to be feared. Yes, changing is hard work (argh, more work?) and takes time. But I have proved to myself that I am capable of change. So, to closely paraphrase from the teachings of Don Juan, by Carlos Castaneda, “Any path is only a path, and there is no affront to oneself and others to change it, if that is what your heart tells you to do. … Look at every path closely and deliberately. … Ask yourself: Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use.”
In the meantime, I intend to feel less guilty about not doing more. I set expectations to write two blogs per week, and I am living up to them. I also am writing more fiction, because I belong to a writer’s group and am inspired by the writers in it. As long as I am on the right path, and I am heading in the right direction, I deserve a break.
It’s now time for a guilt-free swing in the hammock with a glass of sweet ice tea.