Nothing says June fun like a re-evaluation of one’s New Year’s resolutions! I just re-read my post about patience back in January, and I’m struck by how little progress I’ve made. Don’t worry, I’m not going to beat myself up. That would be so boring.
Rather, I would like to get to the bottom of the following mystery. What is this elusive thing that is so goddamn important that I need to constantly make room for it? My next novel? Another feature film perhaps?
Here’s the revelation: It’s nothing in particular.
There are so many things on my to-do list right now that I have sub-lists for my lists, and three different notebooks to house them all. Things like: get Violet’s Canadian passport, write a will, empty that hideous Rubbermaid container in the bedroom that appears to be full of five-year-old business cards, write down that new song riff before you forget it, sew Violet’s favorite dress before she does another impression of you with her hand on her little hip wagging her finger…you don’t need to see that again…etc etc. We all have these lists and they are ever-present. The trick is to not let them invade the space that you save for truly important things like a block of time to write, enjoying a meal with your kid, drinks with friends, or heaven forbid, meditating.
At times in my life, I have been the master of this trick. Lately, not so much. I’m held prisoner by ‘nothing in particular,’ and it’s painfully absurd. Right now, in fact, I’m looking at the clock thinking, I shouldn’t be writing this blog. I should be pruning the Russian olive tree in the front yard. It’s the first day it’s been under 90 degrees in weeks. Why am I inside writing? I have to pick Violet up soon, and then the ax of mommyhood falls. There are only a finite number of things I can accomplish in that time that’s left. Do something, quick!
Why am I looking at things this way? What kind of terrible mother uses an ax as an analogy for picking up her daughter from preschool? Am I falling back into that me-sized hole? Will this nervous breakthrough never end?
My amazing friend Tara Samuel had some insight into this the other day when she was over here working with me on our epic short film, The Key To Happiness (the film itself isn’t epic, just the journey.) She started laughing (only slightly psychotically) as she came to the radical conclusion that there would never be an end to her to-do list, and that therefore she really needs to start being okay with that. Like me, she has the lists and the sub-lists, and the over-achieving artist complex from hell, so I need to listen to her wisdom, maniacal laughter and all. I make my own happiness with my reaction to life. I have the power to turn this around and see it all through a brighter lens. I know I do, because I’ve done it before. But sometimes the dark clouds gather and I just want to welcome the thunderstorm rather than rally for a sun dance.
I always thought I was so good at relaxing and turning off the inner over-achiever, but lately I’ve come to wonder if maybe I wasn’t just drunk and stoned all those times. Could it be that I was masking my true chomping-at-the-bit personality with recreational substance abuse up until the time I had a baby? Is that really possible? If that’s true, then no wonder I’m so impatient. It’s like I’m finally catching up to myself and I’m actually a workaholic tyrant. Either that or I’m just not ‘myself’ without the wine-o-clock hour. Or there’s a third explanation that involves a combination of those things, along with mid-life anxiety and probably hormones. Now that’s boring.
Time to go get the girl, but before I do, I’m going to strap on some rose-colored glasses. There, that’s better. I just remembered something: Violet likes watching me prune the olive tree.