Living the life I love ...

Saturday 8 March 2008

Womb by Snuffkin
If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings. Sometimes the great famine of blessings in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love; rather, we are living the life that is expected of us. We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.

- John O'Donohoe

I woke this morning feeling daunted at the housework I have before me this weekend. My customary habit is to write my morning pages with my first cup of tea, three pages of longhand which have become a snazzy little tool for getting out what is floating around in my head trying to stress me, get it concretised before my eyes where I can do something about it when the time is right.

The first two pages, I could feel the tension in my body. The aching shoulders that reminded me I've missed my latest chiro visit. The familiar sense of churning thoughts swirling around on a mental washing machine cycle (the washing machine agitates on that cycle, does it not?) My thoughts wandered, distracted, restless, thirsty, daunted by whether I could get done what I had set before myself.

I had decided, because housework is so tasteless to me, that I would do it all today, in one fell swoop, leaving me the rest of the weekend to "live the life I love", which involves some writing, some reading of uni stuff, catching up with friends and family, watching a movie. This was my Plan A. Plan B, if today failed, was to spread the housework out over the next three days, doing the majority of it today and Monday, with a break inbetween tomorrow to catch my cuz, her kids, and my Mum.

I guess I'm a bit of an "all or nothing" girl at times, inclined to a bit of black and white thinking, and it seemed like the right approach. And yet what seems right to me sometimes in my head, feels entirely wrong to me in my body, if I will listen ... and I tell you what, dudes, I am discovering that the more I listen to these other parts of myself, the parts I have resisted, the more they are speaking. It feels like as I am becoming a safer place for myself to inhabit, the parts of myself that are young in their years, the artistic parts, the self-nurturing parts, are increasingly growing up into themselves, speaking a bit louder, heady with the oxygen they're getting to breathe.

As soon as I decided that even though Plan A was the ideal, it wasn't achievable, my body relaxed. It was palpable. Suddenly, the rest of the day opened up to me - the visit I plan to the op-shop (I love buying secondhand clothes, and anyway, they're about all I can afford these days :), the breakfast I plan to cook, the time I am going to take to stop and have breaks and have some fun in-between the work, and writing my customary Saturday morning blog post, the one I enjoy the most.
My parents have returned from a holiday in Western Australia. My Mum mentioned the fields and fields of wheat - the main export of the state after mining, apparently - and how few trees there are in the wheat fields. Well, paddocks with no trees may be unattractive to the eye, but how can you plant and harvest seed in a time-managed way in giant machinery when there are damn trees in the way? It's just not feasible.

Problem is, it's also not feasible to have productive land without the trees that keep the ecology intact, and encourage the formation of rain clouds. I don't know how that happens exactly, but more trees produce more rain. And so productivity in the short term leads to less productivity in the long term. It's a losing deal. But it's the way our economy runs. Work harder. Yield more.
Shopping at the Victoria Market might be full of colour, sensory delight, and good produce, but it's time wasting. Shopping in the supermarket is more convenient and can be slotted in in less time. As long as I want aisle upon aisle of unfood - processed stuff that has no life. Paradoxically, even though I don't want to live out of an intensive farming paradigm, working out of my own rhythms causes a bit of inner resistance. It's those old tapes playing again, plus the culture informing me that working at this pace is not "enough". This rhythm doesn't feel like "their" way of doing things - whoever "they" are. I don't think it's coincidence that I have had floating around in my head a vague paranoid unease that my landlord will be looking over my shoulder, inspecting how much I am getting done, finding my way of doing things wanting. I think I have had this feeling in some measure for as long as I can remember, that my rhythms are not somehow "right", my way of doing things don't measure up.

Another paradox - as soon as I have acknowledged that this is the pace I need to go at, not at top speed, those insinuating inner voices making my landlord into some kind of Inspector of Housework have largely disappeared.
Here is the rub: I can see clearly the impositions the capitalist culture places on me, the rhythms it tries to force me into (which are really no rhythms at all, no ebb and flow, but clock-card punching, no light and dark but a 24 hour period lit flourescently) and I have abdicated from that way of living life imposed on me from outside. But there is also required an abdication from imposition from within. And that feels 100 times more liberating, to begin to be able to say no to the oh-so-rational-and-logical voices inside me have also been stealing my vitality, my creativity, my crafting of a life of light and shade, ebb and flow, rhythm and rest, of Saturday mornings leisurely crafting a blog post even though a busy day looms ahead. A life of paradox. The only life I really want to live. The life I love.

Happy Saturday, bloggers.


  1. I absolutely loved this

    "It feels like as I am becoming a safer place for myself to inhabit, the parts of myself that are young in their years, the artistic parts, the self-nurturing parts, are increasingly growing up into themselves, speaking a bit louder, heady with the oxygen they're getting to breathe."

    Thanks for writing that for me. You can have the day off now. ;-)

    Seriously, that's awesome. The words for what I feel but don't know how to say. So cool.

  2. It's funny you should say that because you were flittering in and out of my mind as I was writing it. I think we are experiencing some of the same things :)

  3. Thank you, Sue. It's so good to read the thoughts of someone with the same feelings I used for years to feel guilty about! Actually, it's a very Franciscan post, somehow. You have your priorities right, and that washing machine feeling is a sure indicator when they're in danger of being derailed!

    Blessings - and prayers for the unprintable housework...


  4. erk housework! Somedays it feels as if I could burst into tears (dramatic, I know) because it feels so mindnumbingly boring, and other days I feel such a sense of mindfulness and content. The later is rare, but it does happen!
    I wish you well cleaning your nest..hope to see you this weekend

  5. Mike - Isn't it funny how these guilt feelings at running 3 gears above what we need to come into play? Such an effect of our culture.

    Thanks for the Franciscan comment - it did quite make my day, actually! :)

    Andi - It was luvverly to catch up with you, although I have the standard "post Andi fatigue". Why do we stand and talk in the street for an hour at 1am for? :) Hugs

    And yeah, isn't it amazing how the same thing can drive you to tears or be some kinda meditation :) (But you've got two kids and a husband and have WAY more housework than me - I feel driven to tears on occasions by my own, so I don't know how I'd go with your workload :)

  6. hello, i was just wondering if you were interested in joining Melbourne's collaborative op shopping blog 'I op therefore I am'

    there are also links there to maps and addresses of Melbourne's op shops. let me know if you are interested.

    regards, Amelia


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