We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.—Joseph Campbell.
Looking out the studio window I see a sparrow waddling between islands of snow, pecking out bits of tasty things in the grass.
The day stretches before me and I wonder how it might best be spent. It is a bright blue Sunday, a crisp edge of snow around the edges of things. Bodies of water seem particularly dark blue at this time of year. I vaguely wonder whether my son’s feet are wet as he paddles the Clyde river.
The smell of ginger stock wafts into the studio from the kitchen and I consider various options. I lament not going paddling with my husband who needs some space to be with his friends. And I’m celebrating the empty house…the luxury of hours to do as I please. I could make up new business cards or deal with a pile of papers that have been getting me down, or vacuum the floors, which are filthy since we had a big party on Friday. I’ll definitely get some laundry done.
Once I heard a theory that we have two energetic currents running through us: an action current and a receptive current. In our culture, the theory went, we pay exclusive attention to the action current.
When I first heard this I earnestly scribbled it down, feeling both excitement and great relief. I didn’t need to do more, I needed to let go of trying.
Earlier today I put on a brown Inuit-style embroidered parka and walked across our frozen grass to help Jake remove canoe from the second floor of our barn. I folded sheets and made a chicken stock with ginger, garlic and lemongrass. I’ve practiced some Spanish and I’ve picked up balls of dirty Kleenex off the kitchen counter. Using a long knife I pulled chunks of ice from the bottom of our freezer while listening to a guy on the radio talk about how wars are always waged with benevolent coatings.
Sitting at my desk, I consider my earlier ill-tempered attempts to explain to my son why it is a bad idea to wear cotton socks when paddling on a river in April, as if he might suddenly see the wisdom of my advice and be grateful. I try to let go.
Choices. I adhere strongly to the idea that we always have options. When I’m not tired, that feels delightful. I’m full of ideas for paintings, for family adventures, for improving the house. Other times I feel overcome by a tsunami of my own making.
I have a friend, “a real live wire” as my mother used to say, who is endlessly determined, full of lists and goals to become more fit, more organized, a better parent, upgrade her business, as well as making strides to become more patient. I yearn to remove some great weight from her back, to hear that sigh of relief that is somehow more connected to the life that flows through her.
Perhaps , while the house is empty, it would feel good to light a candle, make a cup of tea and sink deeply into painting or journaling.
I might put all my plans and expectations of the day in a box and shelve them, stare out the window, think about being a sparrow in spring.