Even though I haven’t had a “job” for many years, I still act like I do. I’m extremely disciplined and never procrastinate. I can work on a project alone for years without any need for external verification or assurance. I just do it—step by step by step. Once I set a goal and “know” where I’m going, I can do it. That’s how I did my PhD and wrote two books. It may take me six years start to finish (interestingly, all three projects took that long), but once I’ve set my mind to do something worthwhile, I do it. Heck—I’m so disciplined that I really can make a box of chocolates or cookies last for a month or two, limiting myself to only one a day.
This may make me sound like a robot, but actually I’m very creative. Fortune has given me a life where I’m now free to pursue my interests and causes and creative urges. It’s just that my work ethic is too rigid. I don’t give myself any slack. In my experience, many people live like this—especially here in busy Silicon Valley. “Fun” is reserved for the weekend or the evenings. Of course, Sunday is laundry day, but still.
Despite not having a job to go to, I get up and follow my regimen. It might be reading the newspaper, sometimes meditating for half an hour, going swimming or doing my qi-gong exercises, doing my slated writing or other “job” task for the day, and shopping for and cooking dinner, all interspersed with hours of unending E-mail that I have to keep up with—otherwise I’m under a deluge that can take weeks to recover from. I have to answer E-mails promptly from my readers and I have to keep up with this list or that, because I must stay informed and keep up with the “latest”—whether it be a political or social cause or the latest word in alternative health or spirituality. Hell, I’m so regimented and hard on myself that I have to force myself to read fiction. Unless some reading serves a “learning” purpose for me, I usually won’t make time for it unless it’s when I’m actually on vacation, away from home.
Today I woke up and I just didn’t want to go swimming. I swim in an outdoor pool, and it was dark and cold and windy outside. Of course I wrestled with myself. “You’ll feel better if you swim. You must not slough off.” After I convinced myself that I could swim tomorrow and still keep up with my regimen, I meditated. Sometimes I feel a “message” coming in when I meditate. It’s relatively rare, but when I feel it, I pick up a little notebook I have for that purpose and do a little “automatic” writing. In a light trance-like state, I just let words pour out onto the page without really thinking about it. The sensation is like having one word after another just pop into my head. If I feel I’m beginning to steer it, I just stop for while until another word pops in. Today I got this message:
“You are holding back something from yourself—your ability to know from within. You are wrestling with yourself. It is blocking your reach, your self understanding. The secret is to let go of yourself—to float freer than ever before. Stop regimenting. Stop souring yourself with strictures. Stop pouring wrath on yourself. Stop fighting and you will finally feel free. It’s mental, not physical. Everything is mental—including the physical. You know it, you teach it, but you don’t feel it. Reach for your limit, not for safety. Do anything. It’s OK. No one is watching except yourself.”
After this fairly clear message I decided to run my day (like I very occasionally do on a day without any other commitments) by feel only. I only do exactly what I feel like doing. The first thing I felt like doing was going outside and taking photos of my front yard which is about to undergo some re-landscaping. The next thing I did was read a book out in back of my house—a book I’d put on the backburner for several weeks. Then I decided to make my bed. Then I looked at the clock. It was past “lunchtime”. I thought, “I should have lunch.” Then I realized I wasn’t hungry. I meditated some more. I realized I finally wanted to write the first substantial entry of the AmyLansky blog. Looking through past notes I have made about sudden inspirations, I found the line I wrote above:
“An ant works. A human Lives. Even a dog Lives. Be a dog for a day.”
Today I am being a dog. We usually give our pets way more slack than we give our selves. A dog can pretty much just do what it wants all day. It can sit and look out at nature. It can investigate new smells. It can chase a fairy or its tail. It can bask in the sun and taste the wind. It can express love and joy and pain and sorrow. It can be its Self and not worry or feel guilt about it. It can Live. A dog doesn’t act like a robot, but often we humans do.
Today I’ve decided to Live—at least for a little while.