LOVE AFTER LOVE
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
~ Derek Walcott (1930-2017)
All this striving is killing us.
I’m not exaggerating.
It’s killing our spirits. It’s killing our creativity. It’s killing our ability to dream, to let our thoughts wander, to discover, to be awed. We’re so busy being busy that we are afraid of what will happen if we stop. Just stop.
Everything has to have a point. Be a means to an end. Result in something — an outcome, a benefit, a purpose. Our to-do lists are subtle oppressors we hitch ourselves to. We feel restless when we relax, if we even remember how. Even the things that once brought us joy become chores, or guilty pleasures. We speak of “stealing” time — to garden or nap or write. We can’t sleep. We check our phones first thing upon waking and last thing before sleeping. I’m talking about myself. I’m talking about you. I’m speaking in intimate generalizations. I’m concerned. I’m yearning.
“Simply put, creativity happens when your mind is unfocused, daydreaming or idle.” ~ Emma Seppälä, Science Director, Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education :: read more
I want to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling and have it count.
I want to walk in the woods after rain, inhaling deeply the scent of wet earth, ducking under dripping branches, stopping to look at the patterns of bark and stone.
I want to take a fresh peach in my hands and spend a few minutes touching its fuzzy skin, lifting it to my nose, and examining its colors and creases.
I want to put on a record and really listen to it — not as background music but as the thing I’m (not) doing.
I want to sit and feast on my life, as the late, great Derek Walcott memorialized in his timeless poem, Love After Love.
But how can I remember how to do this, if I don’t make time each day to “take down the love letters from the bookshelf,” read them one by one, without setting a timer, without punching a clock?
I want my writing to emerge from a place not of doing, but of being — but how will that ever happen if all I do is do?
That’s where you come in, and a brand new group.
Our lives are too precious to miss. But that’s exactly what happens when we feed the addiction of proving ourselves and how we “spend” our time, when we feel we must justify time off — and even the fact that we call it “time off” is so telling, isn’t it?
Come greet yourself.
Feast on Your Life
What it is:
A two-week group where our focus will be on practicing the powerful art of being idle.
Each day will bring a different suggested activity, along with related readings and other supportive content. We’ll gather in a secret Facebook group to share check-ins about our experience as we go.
The focus here won’t be on writing as much as on taking some time each day to step out of the routines, the requirements, and the responsibilities — into a space that prizes a slower pace. Having nothing to show for yourself will be cause for celebration. Doesn’t that sound refreshing?
What it isn’t:
Steeped in any particular tradition or dogma. We will draw on ideas from many sources and well as from each other’s experience.
Sign up if you:
- Are a chronic overachiever
- Rarely put down your phone
- Feel plagued by the need to prove something
- Regularly sacrifice creativity on the altar of productivity
- Long to feast on your life but secretly believe that’s impossible
- Berate yourself for committing to things and not following through
- Get nostalgic for some former self that used to listen to music, read poetry, and take walks
What are some example of “not doing” things?
- Lying on the floor
- Taking a slow walk with no destination (or fitbit, for that matter)
- Listening to music
- Saying no without a reason
- Returning to something that once brought you joy
- Sitting on a bench in the sun
- Just calling to say hi
- Taking an extra long bath or shower
- Eating a peach and calling it a feast
- So much more… to be discovered together