Perhaps that is the point of the doing absolutely nothing. Being oblivious of the world outside. These days I need to disengage, and to find a nice place to go to inside my head. I can be lost in someone else's world on YouTube, I can live vicariously through my talking books, I can skim along the surface of life by asking questions online like, why is Bognor called Bognor? It is a relief to think - Oh now it is time to stop all this thinking and doing and organising and planning and so on, now is the time to sit down and opt out.
I do a great deal of opting out. Now that I am a grandma, now that my role has moved on from mother, young person, artist on the move, I haven't the same calls on my time. There isn't that frantic hustle and especially, there is less worry and more sleep. This morning I realise that I spend a lot of time sleeping, or at least lying down, and that it is rare that anything disturbs me enough to stop it. Our human nature gives us a wonderful and complex brain, and a mind that not only thinks of good things, but thinks of bad things too. So sometimes I am disturbed by worries and feelings of unease, and that is all part of being alive. It doesn't make me get out of bed at night or feel I need to do anything till the morning. My bed is very comfortable, my bedroom is beautiful, filled with lovely things and colours so that it is a pleasure to be in there. I couldn't do that when I had young children. They were all in my bed anyway, it was the only way we got any sleep.
I have been thinking about this difficulty of making time work for us, of our judgements about it, and how it is a mark of honour to have too little of it and a problem to have too much. And when various spiritual teachers tell us that we are human beings, not a human doings, we get what they mean but we think - Oh but they don't understand. It's different for us, we say, things are different for us. Perhaps, though, we have made time into a dreadful friend, a friend who bullies us and cannot be satisfied, and yet we love it. And hate it. And love to hate it. Our difficulties with lack of time have, after all, helped us feel important and given us a currency by which we can judge our feelings of worth and belonging. I accept that busyness is not going to stop, and busyness in itself is not a problem. The problem is when it becomes a way to avoid facing ourselves and becomes an end in itself, like an addiction. I accept that it is great fun to be caught up in a whirligig of things to do, places to go, people to meet, deadlines to beat. I know how wonderful it is when so much is happening and somehow nothing can succeed without us and there is that feeling of being indispensable. It is intoxicating to not have time even to eat, to find the only way you can fit in your next client is the two minutes you set aside to get a sandwich for lunch. It is a powerful pull to answer that call late at night, to check your emails in the early hours, to rush about and to be seen to rush about. I have done it, it made me feel important and one of the gang. I felt that if there was a film crew following me they would say Yes! She's one of the players! See, she is so busy and she is doing so much! We can't keep up!
It's great fun. Until it is not. Until it is not fun any more, and then, we do not know how to slow down, how to stop, and we do not know how the world will turn if we cannot go on. It is personal. We have failed. We can't maintain this way of being, everyone else can (it seems) and we are on the road to oblivion and failure. There are many times we enter the dark night of the soul, and this may be one of them. What, in my case, I did not do, was know who I was in the quiet moments. I avoided the quiet moments because I felt I did not exist if I was not moving.
Too little time means we cannot stop to take stock and also gains us a perverse respect. (Who is this successful indispensable person that other people need so much? Who must have powers and talents that I, who have more time, must be lacking?) Too little time is impossible to maintain. If there are free moments, they are filled at once, because that is all we know. And then, there is that old guilt again, about doing nothing. About having time to fill. What does it mean? What does it say about us? What if, in the little bit of time that is sagging around us, someone else gets the prize and we were not quick enough?
Too much time is as bad as too little. Too much of anything is unbalanced. Perhaps, with too much time, we sink into what we fear and feel there is no point in doing anything anyway. We fear we have no worth, we fear we are not enough when there are no distractions and no props. Too much or too little of anything is not good.
Up till only a few years ago, I was conflicted about who I was and what I wanted to be, rushing about trying to do and be it all. Then, one after another, three of my closest people died and I was forced sit with myself in what felt like total emptiness for a long, long time. I felt as if I had fallen off the edge of the known world, and had to begin again. I sat still for days at a time watching the play of light on the wall opposite me as the day passed, doing nothing at all but looking at the changing light as it moved. Somehow I survived, and life went on. I had to look at who I thought I was, and who I thought I was not, and to begin the long slow process of getting to know myself as I really am. There was no choice. I had abandoned the outside world and had shut myself off from everything. What was left was, simply, me. Sink or swim. I understood that even the choice to sink could only take me so far down and until I was dead myself, there was still life. And so, I began to choose life.
|My focus is also on more tea.|
All this is a bit different to feeling guilty when I cannot prevent myself from spending a whole day gazing into the garden and thinking about doughnuts. My guilt comes from having made a plan to do something, something work related, and yet having no power to make myself do it. But writing this blog, and thinking about it all, I am struck by how therapeutic these drifty days are. And even if I have four of them back to back, I am beginning to think that four drifty days are exactly what I need to be my most calm, grounded, prepared and focused for my end of life clients as a soul midwife, and an artist extraordinaire for my painting clients. I like my own company now, after spending time with myself after my falling off the edge of the world; a very different set up to before, when nothing could convince me that I was not a total nut nut and no one could ever like me.
So back now to coping with guilt when time passes and nothing seems to be achieved. Well, I think I have to change my mind about it and enjoy it. Life goes on whether I while away the days or not. Somehow, things still get done. And the joy of watching the grass grow, the light change on the wall, letting myself drift as the hours go by, is good for me. Like now, it is nearly 11 am and I am in my pyjamas, I have a painting to finish and a soul midwife visit to do. I can do that, all in good time, but right now, I want to watch the peonies bloom until it is time to get dressed and go.