Tuesday, June 10, 2014

the rush hour of life

I heard an expression the other day: "We are in the rush hour of life right now." It refers to people in mid-life who are busy raising the next generation, working their asses off at whatever job they're doing, making big money decisions around buying a house or how to invest retirement money, and caught in a metaphorical traffic jam with everyone else doing the same thing.  Inching forward, honking their horn, anxious to get where they are going.

I feel slightly outside of this rush hour because I can avoid the literal rush hour-- my studio is a 30-second walk from my front door-- and I've managed to dodge a lot of adult responsibilities that other people take on, like mortgages and kids. But I still feel a lot of pressure to accomplish and to get things done, and it makes me anxious.

I'm going through an anxious period right now. I have a lot of ideas for work, things I want to make, and I want to corral all of these ideas into a nice long list titled "Things to Make." But the ideas will not be organized in this fashion. Every time I try to sit and make a written list or even draw pictures, I get so bored I forget what I'm doing. And boredom is my kryptonite, so it seems pretty useless to try and control the process in this way. Something in me wants to stop thinking, and start making.

But I feel rushed. I just want to be making stuff in the studio all the time to quell this feeling of rush and anxiety. The late spring light makes it easy to work later and later and I even found myself trying to get into the studio to work over the weekend, which I know is a habit that leads to workaholism, which leads to burnout. I keep asking myself, what is the rush? What is the point of rushing anyway? What is the good in rushing through anything, which is ultimately rushing right toward the end of our lives and death?

Being rushed is mindless. It's answering the call to our most ego-driven self which wants to accomplish and get ahead, literally and figuratively. Ask yourself right now: are you being a thoughtful person when you are trying to rush? Are you truly engaged in the flow of life around you or are you trying to frantically swim faster than the current is carrying you?

Having the presence of mind to not rush is the opposite, it's mindful. It's taking the time to question our deadlines, our timelines, and what we are truly trying to accomplish. I'm usually running a few minutes late whenever I go anywhere, and as is my habit, I rush to get to my destination. But I've stopped speeding through yellow lights because I want to remind myself to give every task the time it needs and deserves. Trying to shave off 40 seconds is crazy.

I have a hard time believing in any kind of god I've been told about. But I've always felt a presence of a creative force in my life, which can feel like the highest, most enlightened version of myself, compassionate yet completely detached from the things which drive me. Whenever I start displaying symptoms of rushing-- heart rate elevated, chest and face tightening, snappishness-- I ask this presence for help.  The same thought comes beck to me every time I ask, "You are right where you are," which reminds me that yes, I am where I am and also, right in where I am. I'm right where I'm supposed to be, even if my ego thinks differently.