This is the first post on a new blog, my first time having my own domain name!
I have dealt with this topic in a bit of a series. You can read the other posts here:
My inner life has definitely been more peaceful since I have stopped struggling to fit art, writing etc. into my days. Although that might just be hormones (the peacefulness part). All I have been doing is getting up and drinking my latte, and then spending the rest of the day doing basic household work and cooking, taking the little kids outside, going on 45 minute walks while listening to Tullian’s Romans podcasts, and maybe reading a few chapters of a book or watching an episode of my current television show. When I have to go to the store or take the kids to some lesson or go to the gym, it hasn’t been stressful because I don’t come home to a mess or a rush to get food on the table.
I definitely see this is a spiritual exercise and not just an opportunity to relieve some stress. I think it’s perfect timing that three of my friends are having some artistic success right now, because it’s great for the ol’ humility to not being doing anything impressive while other people are. I’m pleased to say that in general, I am rooting for them and am enjoying living vicariously through them, instead of feeling competitive. Hopefully I don’t get self-righteous about being so magnanimous.
One thing I have been thinking about for a few years is the very real possibility that I don’t have anything particularly unique to offer the world. Listening to the Romans podcasts has added to the peace I have been slowly developing about that fact. You may know that I have spent my life trying to distinguish myself with either my intellect or my creativity or by tireless service (this mostly within my own family), and it has been exhausting and depressing. Learning that it’s okay if I’m never all that successful at anything has been a relief. I still like writing, art journaling, painting and occasional debates about anarchism, but I know that many others do all these things better than I can, and that the earth will keep spinning for however long I don’t add my proverbial two cents. I am finally learning what it means that He should increase and I should decrease, and right now it’s not even a personal struggle to be decreasing. I don’t expect that to last, but I am enjoying it while it does.
I just re-read Mary Pipher’s autobiography, subtitled Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World. A big part of her story is how she had a breakdown trying to live with the stress of being a successful author, with all the traveling, the talks and speeches and the expectations. When she finally realized that she had to get off that treadmill, her recovery came through complete simplification of her life. She spent months doing nothing but sleeping, cooking and eating, reading and non-professional writing, yoga and other gentle ways of getting in touch with the feelings stored in her body. I wasn’t quite at that point when I read it a few years ago, but it seems providential that I am in my own decompression period and focusing on the same type of things. Her children were all grown by the time she fell apart (so she was able to have a lot more solitude than I will get) but I am hoping that I’ll experience some long-term healing from whatever simplifying I can manage in my own circumstances.