Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spirit

That's my word of the year. It came to me in a blink, in fact just the day before Nina and I met to discuss our choices, and was not the word I'd originally tossed around. But it just felt right. I've been reflecting on the repetition inherent in my work and my life. Each day I complete many of the same tasks I've completed yesterday, and which I'll do again tomorrow. There is a comfort and joy in repetition, and in the patterns these create, but there is also ... well ... the potential for boredom, stagnation, even a craving for something, anything, new. Change comes to us all, and is as constant as the laundry. But it isn't always obvious or easily recognized. Sometimes I want to seek it out; and that can be good (how else would I have gotten to be a doula last year?); but sometimes I need to throw my letters in bottles out to sea and just wait, going about my daily tasks. I need to accept that change will happen when it happens, and some change cannot be forced. I need patience.

The work that I choose to do (writing, right now) comes with a dark side--rejection, fear, self-doubt. When those dark moments crash over me, my response has often been (temporarily) to ask: why bother? Why not find something else to do with my life?
As if doing something else were the only answer. As if something else wouldn't come with its own template of unique sacrifices, its own potential for rejection and failure.
It's occurred to me just recently that there is another answer. The answer is to be strong in spirit.
I'm still exploring what that means, concretely, for me. So far, I believe that the pathway to my spirit is through my body, which probably sounds obvious, but I mean that when my body is engaged physically it is easier for my self to find its presence/absence. (There's some mystery here that I can't put into words: how presence begets absence).
Do I have access to the divine? I'm not sure it matters to me much whether that question has a quantifiable answer. I believe that I do. Anyone does. I believe it.
Here's a short-list of what strengthens my spirit (that I've discovered so far, anyway): prayer; making music; writing; cooking and eating; yoga; friendship; family; attending at a birth; horses.
:::
I'm hesitating about posting this. Spirit is hard to talk about without sounding flaky, and maybe over-serious. But okay. I'm going to risk sounding flaky. I'm going to hit "publish post." Any minute now.

2 comments:

  1. Not flaky at all. I think about this a lot. I'm coming at it from a more secular perspective I guess; for me, spirit is generated by the body. But I still think prayer can strengthen it. There's a psychologist called Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who calls that state you're talking about, of self-loss through total engagement, "flow."

    I like the word-of-the-year. A couple I know does something similar, they choose a theme for the year, and I've been using their idea for the past few years. Mine this year: digging in. Among other things, it means I'm starting the gardens this spring.

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  2. It occurs to me that what small children have naturally is "flow." It's magical.
    No wonder growing up is so painful. Already I can see mine becoming more self-conscious, more self-aware.

    Wonder what all you'll be digging into this year, Heather? Dirt is a great place to start!

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