It's probably our most valuable natural resource, sleep. And I tell you, I will bend the rest of my schedule so that I have the best chance at enough of it--and I have no problem saying no. I know what life looks like without enough sleep, and it is dire. So dire, I don't even want to talk about it. When the ability to sleep is taken away? There is nothing in the world we (most of us) wouldn't trade to get it back.
So if you sleep well, cherish that--you are rich, petals. And if you don't? Brothers and sisters, I hear you. Let's all just be a little kinder than necessary--fragility is more widespread than we could ever imagine.
Your need to rest, to escape, to start over, to dissolve--even temporarily--is nothing more than a demonstration of self-care. We value exhaustion in our culture, we value skin-of-our-teeth, edge-of-our-seats desperate and determined flying by night.
I think we all realize that this is no formula for reaching old age at all, much less gracefully, much less reaching health and sanity in whatever age we happen to be residing. No. You do what you must do so that you can attend the real work of this life with music, with grace, with something approaching joy.
It's inevitable that people, habits, and belongings will fall by the wayside as we move into ourselves. And while we may mourn their loss, we cannot allow that attachment--if it will not stretch without breaking--to keep us from moving forward, moving away.
We are here, yes, to help, yes to serve, but also to see to our own happiness, our own contentment. If we cannot put that first in the delicate balance that is the process of living, then we will be not only of little use to anyone, but a great burden to almost everyone.
We will, I think, be best served in our ongoing struggle to be truly and honestly represented, to be safe, to have long life, and to secure long life for those who come after if we could only, every single one of us, come back to the earth.
On this July 4th, I will get down on my knees in the dirt, and tip my well-worn sunhat to Thomas Jefferson:
"[C]ultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. they are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, & they are tied to their country & wedded to its liberty & interests by the most lasting bands." ~ Paris Aug. 23. 1785
The more space we can give ourselves both from ourselves and between ourselves and others, the more I think we can appreciate the art of the arrangement. Too close, and it's chaos--a blur of patterns and histories, entanglements, resentments, fear, love, and lost love.
But stepping back allows us to see, in ourselves and in each other, the delicate arrangement that inspires us, again and again, to fight to remain, to fight to continue, to fight to be free to admire, to recognize worth, and to be recognized in return.
The intricacies of this world, hell, the intricacies of this square foot of space I'm sitting in, are so mind-bogglingly, mind-alteringly complex and interdependent, that it's simpler to think of it as, well, simplicity. It is life. It is teeming, breathing, sacrificing, contributing life. It is both individual and part of a whole. It is not us-versus-them, it is holistic, dependent life.
That is your promise when you take a deliberate breath, pick a flower, make a salad, pluck a slug from your kale plants, roast a chicken, cook an egg, harvest grain--that you are contributing to the over and under of this simple design, and your sacrifice is nothing more than your acknowledgement of this inescapable life.
Yes, we all take, of course we do. But inevitably, willingly or no, we give back. We return.
And it's not just what we do, but it's how we do it, what we say both out loud and to ourselves. Grumbling and complaining is exhausting. It's exhausting! To my dismay, I find it's a habitual go-to for me more often than I'd care to admit, and really, it's not only tiring on this end, but, man, those poor souls who have to listen? Or worse, they have to listen AND do the work too? Well, that's just all kinds of wasted energy, not to mention not doing much to endear you to your little community.
Even if we manage to keep our mouths shut, that sticky negative mess leaks into our brains, becoming an immobilizing mantra, dragging our limbs and our attention down until we resent even getting up in the morning, even saying the 'yes' that got us here in the first place.
More and more, I'm coming to realize it's all about the story we tell. Yes, the one we broadcast, but really, it's the story we tell ourselves that counts. You may think you hide it well, this dark syrupy w...
Do a little of what you love every day. Really, it's all you have to offer in return for this life, even if you feel you owe nothing to this world because it's been so bloody hard (then double points to you for spending five minutes, ten minutes, in love with something you've created--that's wild and brave and daring).
A little can be a little or a lot--see, that's the beauty of it. In my world, finding a quarter on the sidewalk is a pretty sweet deal. For others? They'd leave it there--not worth the trouble to pick up. That's okay. That's their working definition of what's worthwhile.
The point? Do what you love. One minute a day. Seven. Sixteen hours. You're the boss and you set the schedule.
You're not always at the mercy of someone else's clock. And the love, the art, the forest, the light will wait.
But not forever. It needs to be fed and will die, distressingly quickly, when given nothing for light but screens and devices, nothing for breath but central heating and...