Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Moments of Emancipation
I think life -- no, not life but maturity is made up of moments of emancipation.
We think everything that changes our life should arrive like a big moment, obvious and momentous, fireworks and blazing sunset, fighter jet flyover, ticker tape parade big. So we don't realize the smaller moments that set us free.
And since those small, quiet moments of emancipation often come after a battle with oneself, a beating up of oneself for being stupid or easily distracted or persuaded by others, we are too exhausted, too relieved, too busy cleaning up a mess to appreciate what we've just done.
We've said Enough. We've put our foot down. We've stood up for ourselves. We've set ourselves free.
But I'm old enough now -- no, mature enough now to recognize a moment of emancipation when it happens.
For weeks, I've been dragging an expectation and an outcome along like an overstuffed backpack, attempting to carry this load of what other people expect me to do, what I think I should accomplish for some kind of truly uncertain future opportunity.
All the while, my husband has been gently and patiently commenting, "You have published a book. You don't need to do anything else but write more books."
Where was this man when I was 26? And when did he become so patient?
Once I realized that I actually don't need to do what I'm doing, that the outcome won't matter once it's achieved in two years, that I'm actually messing with my writing by continuing to pursue that outcome -- Bam! It was like getting smacked in the face with a snowball.
When faced with a choice between writing books, work I absolutely love doing, and completing a course that has given me nothing but grief, headaches and cold sores for six weeks -- a course that would interfere with the three books I plan to work on this winter -- well, it was easy to shovel everyone else's expectations, everyone else's rules and regulations, into a big pile at the edge of road and watch the plow scoop them away.
And how did that moment of emancipation feel?
Say hello to a good night's rest and getting up at six a.m. for yoga.
Say hello to a snowy walk in the woods with the dog during which I didn't think about anything but trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue.
Say hello to feeling like myself again.
Free as a bird.
Free to do nothing but write more books.