Back in June, I hosted a workshop called Creativity and Spirituality. It was the third time I’d done the workshop, the first time for a fee, and only one person showed up. But she, a friend of mine, and I did the workshop anyway, and I learned something.
One of the questions I ask to the participants is, “What is your favorite thing to do instead of being creative?” I’d answered this question myself previously with Facebook, or TV, but in June, I got more specific and I believe to the heart of the matter – Reading about other people’s lives, instead of engaging in my own.
At the time, I was reading memoirs of people on spiritual/redemptive quests and memoirs of comediennes. I read about 5 in a month; I was voracious for them. How are other people engaging in their lives?
This morning, over my plate of eggs and toast, I heard the planes go by again and looked up – the small bi-planes that go over everyday, and I wrote, I want to fly a plane.
This is not a new thing. I think it every time they go overhead – I want to fly. I started to then write, you can’t make a living out of it, and that’s a west coast kind of --, and then I stopped myself, again like yesterday, and just let myself have it – I want to fly a plane. Who cares what for, whether it “works” in the scheme of success that we – I – try to mold everything to fit. I let myself have it, even in daydream, because I want it – not for money or for success, but because I know that I’d love it. Simply for the pleasure of it.
Am I allowed to do things simply for the pleasure of them – without an “end” in mind, without a need for it to be something more than simply pleasurable?
It occurred to me about my wanting to take math classes. About wanting to get an algebra book again, just to brush up, just because I want to. For someone who writes so much about art, etc., it may seem strange, but each time I’ve done “The Artist’s Way,” and answer the question, If you could take any five classes, what would they be?, I always wind up with “math” at the end of the list. As if sliding a note in under the rest of the homework, don’t look too closely, but I think I actually have an interest in something different.
I thought about it this morning, about math, and flying, and learning to play the guitar, not so I can play on stage, but so I can play all those Jewish camp songs I grew up singing – so I can play them for my brother and his kids, like my brother came to play them for me when he visited me in the hospital.
Can I learn to do something, simply because I want to?
I thought this morning about jobs. Professions. Careers. I thought about the desperate and insistent desire I’ve had to “do something” that fulfills me. Is that need as persistent now? With the whole “life and death” thing foremost, does it matter whether I feel complete at a job, or will it matter more that I did a page of algebra that day, simply because I wanted to?
Dunno. I imagine it’s a middle-ground, a gray area of the two. Data entry … cannot be my life. But, I reflected as well this morning: What do I know? What do I know about what can happen in life? I’m a just 31-year old MFA graduate with Leukemia living 3,000 miles from my closest relative in one of the most dynamic areas of the country. Not exactly what I thought would happen when I was 16.
My point is that I am finding wiggle room between what I am doing with my life and what I am doing IN my life. What I am doing for a living versus how I am living.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my little studio apartment now. I’ve always valued it, it’s made my gratitude lists, but after being in a claustrophobic, beeping, fluorescent-lit hospital room, this place is like the Taj Mahal. I have a kitchen! Who cares about lack of counter space.
Things that were for granted are not as much, right now. I realize this gratitude itself will ebb and flow as life comes in and out. But, for now, I realize that I want to be IN my life differently. I may not be making Frida Kahlo art, but I want to do more than read about others’ lives (all the time – I make NO promises about not reading memoirs!). But, if I want to read Stephen Hawking’s Universe In a Nutshell simply because I’ve always wanted to, isn’t that worth doing?