July 20, 2010

doing nothing

There are days, like today, when being an artist and choosing to live the life of an artist completely overwhelms me. In my head, there is a swirling list of projects I want to finish, there are characters who want to talk and there are questions that need to be answered. On my desk, there are very real bills that need to be paid, there are email messages to be returned and there is a blinking red light on my answering machine that means someone somewhere needs something from me. And then, there is the clock that reminds me - I only have this day, this one day, to be.

Meditation. Yes, everyone says I must meditate and somedays, I remember to and somedays, it helps. Exercise. Yes, everyone says I must exercise and somedays, I get off my ass and somedays, it helps. Gratitude lists. Yes, yes, yes, I make lists and lists and I am grateful, truly I am and do I have to keep announcing that over and over to the Universe????

What about those days when it just feels TOO BIG TO CONQUER? When you're too pissed to meditate and too depressed to exercise and just too childishly grumpy to be grateful? Where do you stand on those days? What do you do?

It is in this moment when emotions can only create reactivity within me that I choose to do nothing. Nothing at all. I shut my mouth. I don't reply to emails. I don't pick up the phone. I don't call a friend to vent. I choose nothing because it is the only safe choice.

Why do nothing?

I have always been a super-pro-active person. I always fix and cajole and massage and try to improve the situations that arise around me. I used to believe that my emotions had to be acted upon - that I needed to be instantly responsive to life, to my career, to my work, to my business of being an artist. I functioned as any artist would within a nurturing, creative setting. I listened and I acted upon those emotions. Then I realized, I wasn't dealing with other artists. I was dealing with business people and that meant, I needed to learn an entirely different language. The first step to speaking a new language is to listen and listening, to me, feels like doing nothing. So, today, I am doing nothing.

How to do nothing?

Aye, there's the rub. Even this post is an action, isn't it? If I were Buddhist, I might have a set of tools to accomplish nothingness. I might have a mountain on which to sit or a monk to act as mentor but I am not Buddhist, I am a writer and when pushed, I turn to words to save me. I ask the blank page to act as confidante. I put pen to blue line and ask for guidance. Please, take me from line to line and show me, show me the happy ending.

Is it nothing? Writing? Somedays, it feels like it and today, is one of those days.

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