I’m not doing what I came here to do. I still don’t have a real job, so I have no daily sense of community, no place where I am known and expected to be. I still haven’t been writing (again—these blogs are from two months later). My room is still only half set up. I can’t even figure out how to make things stick on the walls. Everything I put up falls down within hours. The house isn’t set up; there’s no furniture in the living room and no artwork on the walls. I haven’t started up the new things I wanted to bring into my life like climbing, exercise, meditation, etc. The days are drifting by, and I’m having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, which are getting later and later. I’m just not excited to get up and be alive. Especially as it gets colder. The bed is a womb, so warm and soft and cozy, safe and comforting, how can I bring myself to leave that nest and emerge into the unfulfilled not-knowing of the day? On the road it was so easy, a touch of sunrise and necessity had me wide awake, packed and moving, but now I just can’t find the motivation to get up.
I’m also having a really hard time listening to my heart. Things are hard and unpleasant right now. Is that a sign that what I’m doing is wrong? I should not be living here, Boulder is not the right place, life inside is not the right thing? The words aren’t coming, so should I give up writing? Or are these things just barriers I need to push through? And how can I know the difference—when does dissonance call for reevaluation and when does it call for perseverance? I just have too many questions, as always, some of which feel essential, like they need to be addressed immediately, before anything else, or I can’t go on. I tell you this, waking up and getting out of bed without being able to answer the question of “who am I and why am I here” takes an infinitely greater leap of faith than does hitchhiking across the country.
Why am I having such a hard time with this whole thing? Why can’t I just love the process? Why can’t I let go and embrace it all, accept whatever is happening to me? Use this time and space for what I had intended? Why can’t I write? If I’m not traveling anymore, not living in this outwardly outrageous and fascinating way, then what am I even supposed to write about? What role does writing now have in my life? Too many questions.
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One evening I rip out a few pages from my notebook and make a massive bubble chart of my needs (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, creative, political, social). Then I write down all the things I want to be doing with my time but haven’t been doing, and I connect those bubbles to the various needs they would fulfill. It’s time for a change in my approach. After two years of waking up, living spontaneously, and allowing the day to unfold, I am going to try creating a rigid and disciplined structure for my days. I am going to try this as an experiment, because the old way isn’t working anymore. I immediately feel averse to the idea, maybe because it’s the exact opposite of what I have been doing for so long, but maybe this is a part of the reason I came here, to experiment with different ways of living. I’m concerned about losing the spontaneity and flow that I’d been cultivating before. Yet I’m not doing anything with the freedom I have right now, it’s destroying and immobilizing me.
And still, I’m not doing what I came here to do. My days are filled with so many other things. Looking for work. Setting up the house. Hanging with Boulder friends. Drinking coffee. Struggling to write. But I chat with Aneliya one evening and she tells me that maybe my problem is that I have too many expectations. The only reason I’m suffering right now is that I’m comparing the reality of my experiences here to my old expectations, and there is a conflict between the two. And she’s right. Things aren’t exactly wrong right now, there is nothing that’s not ok, I’m feeling fine most days, I’m just not fulfilling my own expectations. I thought I’d let go of the idea of expectations a long time ago. But as always, I came here loaded with them, only I disguised them from myself by calling them “intentions.” There’s been no difference so far. I’m trying to learn to let go.
Everything is being flipped upside down right now. I’m being challenged and pushed in completely new ways, pushed to new things and new conclusions, many of which are completely opposite to what I thought was true a few months ago. One example would be work. I just spent two years avoiding work, refusing work, sympathizing with those trapped in hated jobs, writing essays on why work is bad and wrong and destructive, and right now all I want to do is work. I want a job, I really do. Not even because I will need money. It’s because I want to be part of a community, I want to have other people relying on me for something on a regular basis; it would give me some structure, help me organize, since currently I am finding myself totally incapable of providing my own structure with my lists of neglected activities.
Though actually, come to think of it, I guess it’s amazing in a way that I was able to be so devoted to my arts, travel and writing, that I made my own structure for two years on the road. Maybe freedom is not what we think it is. Would people really WANT a break from their work? Even people who say they hate their jobs? What would people do if they had two years with no external help building routines? Would they love the “freedom,” or would they go insane and have no idea what to do with themselves? Maybe this 40-hour work week isn’t as horrible and devious as I’ve always thought. Maybe it’s what people really want. Maybe people want to spend most of their daytime hours engaged in any random activity that occupies their time. I don’t know, but I’m ready to try it. Trying to suspend my judgment, let go of my preconceptions a little bit, and let this all be.