I took a break. That may be obvious from my lack of posting. I needed a week away. My intention had been to have a stockpile of 30 different daily intentions by the end of my little experiment… but after about 22… I started having the urge to repeat previous ones. So instead of forcing myself to stay in the box I’d created, I took a breather. Let the week just go by and tried to pay attention to what my natural rhythm ended up being each day. And in each portion of the day. To notice when I had energy, and when I tended to get cranky.
I think Monday is my bare minimum day. Where I pick just a couple of things… like going to the gym, posting a book on PBS, and taking a walk… and then let that be my bare minimum. Anything else, is only if I feel like it, extra. I noticed that the previous intentions that fell on this day were ones like Slow Down, and Gentleness. And since I work on the weekends… Monday tends to be my breather, but I also turn into a grump if I get to the end of the day without having done anything that feels productive.
You see this intention game is part of this bigger search of mine. To bring more rhythm and ritual to my days. To our days. I had an inkling of the need for this before… months and maybe a couple years before now. But the presence of a baby who’s behavior is landmarked by rituals (naps, mealtimes, play times), and who brings a decidedly more scripted pattern to our life, had made me realize even more how important rhythm is.
But I’ve wanted it to be a natural rhythm, in line with the ebb and flow that occurs spontaneously throughout the day. Action and exploration at the times when our bodies want to move and our minds are alert. Cooking and clearing when I need to get out of my head and back into my body. Ease and gentleness at the point in the day where we all get tired, a little worn out.
Without rhythm, the hours slip away so quickly, but the days somehow seem long.
I’ve been aching for rhythm. I have been trying to discover my/our rhythm.
“There’s something about vacations that can reset your pace. Even if they’re just a few days. It’s the removal from the normal routine of life. Distance from everyday crutches, positions, habits. Although we brought a laptop with us, I felt silly using it when the beach was right outside our door. So we took long walks at sunset, or in the morning mist, the baby and I, while Mark was in the conference. We played, I flew Mason around the room on his stomach, sang to him as we danced around on the patio, set him on his stomach and he stuffed my books into his mouth. And when he napped… I paused. And considered what I wanted to do next with my time. I had brought some knitting, a couple books, and a journal. I ate when I felt hungry, I made some tea when I wanted comfort, I sat in front of the fireplace when I wanted to still my mind. I had an informational book about baby’s brains for when I felt like learning, and I had a novel for when I felt like being told a story. And I even watched a couple tv shows, but only when I checked in with myself first. I did so little out of reflex, or habit… that I realized how often my days just disappear, leaving me frustrated by the end of them, because the hours were filled with activity, but I did very little that I actually felt was nourishing, or productive in the way that I wanted to be…
So this trip… I think it gave all of us a chance to reset. I definitely become more aware of my approach to the days and slow myself down just enough to make sure I was headed in an intentional direction before I took off. To remember that word I chose for this year, Attention, and apply it, not just to those special fleeting moments that I want to treasure, but to all of the moments in my day. In paying attention… to how I’m feeling, how Mason’s feeling, how Mark’s feeling by the end of the day, and what we all need at varying points… those special moments happen far more often. Because life isn’t just occuring without my participation.”
– from our family blog, Oh Boy!
That was our Half Moon Bay trip. We just came back from our second trip up north this month. This time to Berkeley. This time to a workshop for me! And one that I have so many words and such excitement brimming about… but now my car is headed south, on another road trip, but a bit more impromptu. So as much as I want to rave about this past weekend… it will have to wait for one more southern California pause.
” ‘Life comes to find us as much as we go out to find it.’ … could be a line from a Hallmark card, except for the radical imaginative step he asks us to take next. Life can find you, only if you are paying real attention to something other than your own concerns. If you can hear and see the essence of otherness in the world, if you can treat the world as if it is not just a backdrop to your own journey, if you can have a relationship with the world that isn’t based on triumphing over it, or complaining about it… Wordsworth tells us, that we put ourselves as the center of the world, strangely, by eliminating our concern for the smaller self. When something beautiful and overwhelming, like a waterfall, or the morning light, or the mountainside takes us outside our worries… we are put in a privileged position, that is far more than the ability to appreciate a good view. Hearing and seeing, without the filter of interpretation, is seen by Wordsworth, as the act of reaching the real conversation at last. And it is this conversation that does all the work of helping us find our way into the future.”
– David Whyte, in The Three Marriages, talking about William Wordsworth’s poem Prelude.