Friday, December 18, 2015

While You're Getting, Get Dreamy

Theme Song: Dreaming

Some of the most obvious things in the world really aren’t obvious at all. I don’t know why that is. So many of our answers lay in plain sight, hidden from us like the house keys we set on the table when we were rushing to get out the door, stuffing that last bit of multigrain muffin into our mouths so we could be “hands free” to rummage for the keys in our purse, while there they were, just steps away, glittering in the morning sunlight.

See? I just answered my own question. A big part of not seeing the obvious is rushing. Another part of not seeing the obvious is clutter, both physical and spiritual. Not only do we rush, but we clutter our lives with busyness and mental detritus. But you knew that, didn’t you? It’s obvious!

Less obvious, perhaps, is what the H*** to do about it. When you can’t see, you can’t see. And when you have a lot to do, well, who is going to do it if you don’t? From the power of saying “no” to a daily meditation practice, there are plenty of ways to address the noise in your life, and I recommend you try them all. . .Life is, after all, one grand experiment.

One thing I’ve started to do, and, yes, it requires a little discipline, especially at first, is to get up early* and “get dreamy.” It is, of course, the getting up part that requires discipline. The dreamy part is, well, dreamy. In my world, dreamy time is set aside for free-form research and writing. It’s what I’m doing right now and, furthermore, I am doing it from my cozy bed, propped up with a giant stuffed crocodile left over from my children’s younger childhood, and four, yes four, fluffy pillows.

I realized I could take this time as a result of having drafted a novel during #NaNoWriMo2015. I’ve heard it takes between 21 and 28 days to create a habit, and #NaNoWriMo2015 gave me just enough time and psychological structure to create that habit. It was obvious (there’s that obvious, again!) that I had to write first thing in the morning if I was going to reach the 50,000 word goal. If I didn’t write first thing, all the busyness took over and the time and solitude required to write something meaningful were less accessible.

When the month was over, and I no longer “had” to write daily, I felt an emptiness and an unsettled feeling inside. I didn’t know what to do after the intensity of #NaNoWriMo2015, so I decided to take a break for a week. Do you know what happened? I went into a mini-slump during which I realized that having time EACH DAY for unfettered, ungoal-oriented creativity makes me feel happier and more grounded.

By "getting dreamy," I mean simply that you give yourself time to explore your inner world, discover your questions, and look for your answers. The thing is to be unsystematic, to let one thing lead to another up to a point. Then, of course, you apply this dreaminess to whichever outlet speaks to you. In my case, it's writing. In yours, it may be music, cookery, the visual arts, or engineering.

I believe I’ve told you that I think each of us has a purpose and a gift to share with the world, although many of us live lives that tend to obscure or block that purpose and gift. For one thing, few of us have been encouraged to look at life from the point of view of the heart’s desire. Some of us think that the heart’s desire is needless self-indulgence (but they never watch TV or eat too much cake, do they?).

The thing about self-indulgence is that we humans were built to satisfy our desire, and that desire can be harnessed for good or for evil. If you are ruled by your baser instincts, you will satisfy yourself in a million meaningless or harmful ways that don’t bring real contentment.

If you are ruled by your heart, which, according to my yoga teacher, is the seat of the soul, you will “indulge” yourself for the purpose of creation and you will elevate yourself and everyone else along with you. The thing is to indulge yourself with what really matters most to you; then, the need for other kinds of indulgence will tend to drop away.

Millions of people live lives of forced drudgery. Take, for example, Syrian refugees and others who have neither the time nor the place for getting dreamy. I grapple with the question of why I am lucky enough to be sitting in a big, warm bed with a giant stuffed crocodile, tapping away on my Mac, while others are forced into slave labor to mine the minerals that make my laptop possible. The thing about humans, though, is that we can dream without anyone ever knowing it; equipment is, at the end of the day, optional.

These are not very dreamy thoughts, but by giving time and space to them, who knows? It’s possible that an inspired solution will present itself. Also consider the fact that your baser self will use every possible means, from pity for others to pity for yourself, to stop you from breaking out of your self-inflicted prison and doing what you were meant to do. Here’s my recommendation: Throw your drop into the bucket.

By this I mean, in addition to taking care of your immediate duties and dreams, give a little to strangers. If you have time, give time by volunteering or writing letters to the proper outlets voicing your point of view. Be in dialogue. Respectfully share your opinions with people you trust about the many injustices that surround us. If all you’ve got is money, regularly write checks made out to your favorite cause. But do not add to the world’s injustices by withholding your own gifts. After all, even the caged bird must sing.

*This could work if you are a night person, too, as long as your lifestyle allows you to sleep in so you can get enough rest. I never recommend going without adequate sleep to anyone over 40.

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