Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Remembering to Breathe


At dinner tonight, my partner and I began listing all of the grown up things we have yet to figure out in our lives.  Doctoral programs, writing projects, where to live, acupuncture schools, life insurance, new car tires, taxes and absent 401k accounts littered our page of things we had no answer to yet. We looked at each other, as if to say, we will never get there.

As we listed all of the things to be scared of in the future, our faces began to frown, our chests tightened and we felt discouraged, even ashamed that at 33 and 35, we didn't have it all figured out yet.

I talked about how I felt disconnected from my creative self.  I am a poet and haven't written a new piece in a few months.  I was fortunate to have my book, "Border Theory," published by Black Coffee Press in 2011 but I haven't found the thread or creative push to create another complete project.  I feel stuck and overwhelmed by all of the unfinished business I have yet to complete or conquer.  It's as if everyday I wade through a maze of loose ends waiting to be tied up.

All of these thoughts were being discussed over a lovely meal of lentils, hummus and fresh vegetables.  In front of me were bright colors, rich textures and cooling vegetables that nourished me, made me a stronger person.  So often I overlooked the tiny things in life, the beauty of a good meal with someone I care for.  So often I forget to breathe.  These are lessons I teach my creative writing students, to search for the good in even the smallest life detail, but it is advice I often overlook for myself.


One afternoon, while teaching preschool, I watched a determined two year old build a vibrant and unique home out of colored wooden blocks.  He carefully chose the spot for each oddly shaped or rounded piece to fit into his structure.  Minutes passed as he examined each block, making sure it was in the correct space.  As the tallest part of the home began to sway I prepared myself for a crying and distraught toddler.  Seconds later, the structure fell apart, before I could even take a photo.  Immediately the child surveyed the destruction and began building again, without hesitation.  As he started all over I smiled and let out a deep breath.  The next structure would be even more creative and it too would fall.  Starting over didn't scare or bother the child and the fact that there was no concrete evidence that such a beautiful building had ever existed didn't seem to matter.  The memory, the idea was still alive.

The moment is what matters.  The color of a meal, the laughter, the seconds of creativity are what enhance and make our lives enjoyable.  When things fall apart or seem insurmountable, we have to breathe and know that even if one thing falls down, it's ok to start over.

We don't have to figure it all out, we have to feel it out.