Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 69: Spring Cleaning

Today, I cleaned out my closet.

No, this is not some metaphor for purging a lot of skeletons of old ideas or characters or worries or dreams, I mean literally.  I had 2 free hours between my photo shoot this morning and my students this afternoon, and I got possessed with an overwhelming need to clean my closet now.  I could have taken that time to write, but the closet cleaning had to be done sometime, so after a momentary pang of guilt (assuaged in part by the knowledge that Gretchen Rubin lists clean closets as one of her personal top 10 secrets to happiness), I did it.

This has kind of been a week for that.  I also spent several hours preparing my tax deductions for my accountant.  These were both things that had to be done, though the time I spent on them I certainly would have preferred to have used for something creative.

But I made a choice.  I decided not to resent having to do these things, but instead to just do them.  To recognize that no matter what particular hours I chose to do them, those hours would always be hours I could wish I was spending doing something else.  I could be frustrated at the lack of time either this week or next week or the week after, and in the mean time spend all that time feeling itchy and annoyed with myself for not having gotten done these things I had to get done.  That's energy wasted.  

And the reality is, I haven't wanted to write this week. 

There are probably lots of reasons for that. I was so sick for several days, I just couldn't summon up the mental focus or energy to write.  I was also feeling a little discouraged on Sunday that the scene I had written last week turned out to be superfluous and not really taking the play anywhere.  And I was tired of feeling so much pressure on myself to use every spare second of every day to be doing something important.

On Wednesday, when I was still home all day but feeling well enough to teach a few students, I used the extra time I had to get the bulk of my tax work done.  I completely took all pressure off of myself to write (except for my blog).  It felt so good.  I had this moment of clarity where I thought: wow, this is what my life would feel like if I didn't keep giving myself these projects and deadlines.  I could just work, get done what I need to get done, and then relax.  Be with my boyfriend.  Be with my friends.  Go out sometimes.  I felt all this time and space opening before me and surrounding me like a warm yellow light, and began to wonder if I want to keep going with this project.


I've been here before.  My experience tells me this is one of those moments where the grass is greener no matter which side of the fence you are on.  As soon as I find myself without a project, I give myself another one.  I can't help it.  My creative drive is so strong, it won't nap quietly for long.

But I think I do need to let it nap.  I think I need to take "life breaks", even in the middle of my projects.  A few hours, a day, a few days, maybe even a week where I take myself off the hook and just take care of my life for a bit.  No excuses, no guilt, no justification, no endless agonizing over how I "should" spend my time.  (if you don't know how I feel about the word should, read Day 47.)  I sure like the sound of that.  

So, I guess I took a life break this week.  Maybe there was a little metaphorical closet clearing going on after all.
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