The Wheels of Change

Last night was one of those sweet nights, so full of promise. I wa just tired enough to be relaxed, but this sort of all-over physical exhale made it possible for my mind to churn out ideas and plans most effectively. The house was quiet — the parents, the two cats and the dog are all asleep on their respective bed/couches — and the steady rain drummed against the roof like a pulse or the soft whoosh of the ocean tide. The perfect night for thinking…

I am always generating ideas. I have gotten into the habit of carrying around a miniature Moleskin notebook with me wherever I go so I can jot down my snippets of prose or recipe ideas or lists of things to do without agonizing over the lost thoughts later. And yet, although lately I’ve been thinking and producing good brain-fruit, I’ve been struggling with the idea of action. Do it. Just do it. Why can’t I do these things I so desperately desire to accomplish?

There is a strange disconnect between our heads and our hands, in which we imagine marvelous alternate realities but, for some untold reason, we are unable to push beyond our paltry personal limits and make our dreams into reality. I hate this. So I’m going to change.

Here are some of my disconnects, and here’s how I’m going to work on making those thoughts into something tangible.

*     *     *     *     *

So, I think I like to run. Think is the operative word here, but really I do enjoy a brisk mind-clearing jog in the dusk of the day to stretch out my lungs and my legs. My fiancé is a competitive runner and I am so impressed by his physical and mental fortitude. I have always been impressed by these kinds of people, and I’ve always wanted to be a runner, so this year I want to actually do it. No more pansy lay-around-in-my-sweatpants attitudes — I want to run! A mile a day is totally doable, and so is at least 20 minutes of jogging a day. I can do it, and so can my friend Josh — we’ve decided to run a 5k together this spring, and have committed to running every day until we start to feel stronger and more capable of pulling off this running thing. And even though the thought of going long distances makes me want to alternately hurl and shout it from the rooftops, I’m looking forward to feeling stronger, to gaining endurance, and to seeing my body change. Because, let’s be honest: I want to be a runner because I want to be in great shape (and I want to be healthy), and the wedding is only 4 months and 5 days away. OH MY GOSH WHERE ARE MY ASICS????!!!

I also like to create, whether that means writing or cooking or crafting. I would love to be a part of something like the Little Craft Show, and I would love to have a creative outlet to supplement my “day job,” which now consists of schoolwork, editing, and library work. All things I love, yes, but sometimes a person just needs to work hard with their fingers and hands and let their mind rest. I’ve played around with a few ideas that have to do with thrifted leather handbags, needle and thread, and leather working, but so far I haven’t taken any big steps to putting this idea into action. I have a Goodwill bag full of satchels in the trunk of my car, but I can’t touch them until I work on my thesis, because unfortunately that takes precedence over anything having to do with pleasure or personal enjoyment. And don’t you dare try to convince me that writing a thesis is enjoyable BECAUSE IT IS NOT. But, at least I have ideas, and at least I have some mental space in which to explore these ideas, to roll them around in my mouth like a dissolving mint.

If I made an Etsy shop or even just sold a few things at a craft show or to local shops, and I called it Bow+Arrow, what would you think? The name came from a story about my grandpa, so it’s special: once, when I was small and spending the day at my grandparents’s house, I took what seemed like a little nap in their living room. They had (and still have) this beige fold-out couch, with a texture like tweed, and it was on this couch-bed that I had my little-girl siesta. When I woke up, after what felt like fifteen minutes but was probably more like two hours, my Gampey had whittled for me a bow and stretched cord from each end, and cut lengths of dowel rod into suitable arrows, with notches in the ends for catching the bowstring. I was in awe that he could make something so intricate, so complicated, so useful for me in my Tigerlily afternoon play-acting, and I have never forgotten it. I thought he could do anything.

I also love yoga, but I forget about how much I love it when I stop practicing. I also love how calm and stretched and relaxed I feel after a session, even one on my own living room floor. I want to practice more yoga, and I want it to become ingrained into my routine. Someday I think I might like to teach yoga, but until I get better at loving it I will refrain from putting the cart before the horse.

It’s a beautiful and terrible thing to want so much out of this life: I want to pare down my “wants” and my belongings and detach myself from objects. I want to be organized. I want to be better at loving people (not just yoga). I want to be disciplined. I want to be creative and spontaneous, but I also want to aggressively save money for the future. I want to stop eating sugar. I want to travel, but I want to settle down somewhere with a little home with my man and a garden. I want to stop idealizing and clinging to false constructs of how things should be, and accept things for what they are. This quote is especially enlightening on the subject:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” from Joseph Campbell.

I have a sense of…nearly dread, or anxiety about these things, and a urgency to complete them. But so many things are happening that are also good and lovely that I want to strive to enjoy regardless of all these other things I want to do. Like another semester before me, projects to complete, holidays to celebrate, sunshine to soak in, graduation, commissioning, planning for the future and the wedding. Without my earlier lists and wants, I still have PLENTY to fill my days — and that in itself is something to be grateful for.

In reflecting on this past year, I have so many things to count as blessings, and so many more that are lessons to be learned from. As I sift through 2011 mentally, I’ll (of course) create a list of goals, but I also want to create a list of lessons learned. I’d love it if you would share yours, too.


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