Lately at our house the name of the game has been Big Things: big shifts, ideas, and plans. I like it. Unlike last year, the Big Things don’t feel tornado-like in nature, sucking me up before I have a chance to realize what’s going on. But, they do get exhausting. And, it’s easy to get so good at chugging along in the constant motion that I forget to step outside of it for an occasional reality check. So, I try to make space.
Making space means two things for me:
#1 Remembering to breathe. Seriously. Today I was mid Mental Health Support Class (also known as a spinning class), and I was dragging as we hauled away. It occurred to me that life was feeling like this right now: a little too quickly paced to easily breathe or engage in conversation. I realized that panicking or thinking too hard about it wasn’t going to help. So, I just found my breath, and paid attention as my thoughts came and went, and just enjoyed being in it. I’m not proclaiming some deep enlightenment that I’ve found. Rather, I’ve just found a confidence that giant things will come and go, and I will still be standing at the end- breathing. And, that’s mega different from this time last year, where Big Things shut me down with anxiety that kept me from sleeping for months. The goal is to not get too stuck in my head– to stay in my body.
#2 Finding my joy. It’s not rocket science: I’m a happier, more creative person when I make time to do things just because I like them. I like life more when I remember what I’m curious about in the first place. And, sometimes these things have nothing to do directly with creating, but sometimes connecting to these things ends up being the surprise instigator of good ideas. Today I was reminded that I adore Jarvis Cocker, the frontman of the band Pulp, and that I need more Brit Pop in my life. I bookmark writing and images that I love for times when I have trouble remembering what’s exciting in the world. Because, if I can’t remember what it’s like to be at least a little bit madly in love with the world, what’s the point? That love is where the good stuff comes from.
In the last week, I’ve talked to a lot of creative people who are feeling a bit bogged down by the constant juggling that their work requires. There are grants to write and audiences to develop and logistics to carefully pinpoint. And, suddenly you’ve forgotten why you’re doing it in the first place: the message that got you excited or the thrill of connecting with the audience, or the ideas that you’re probing so intently in rehearsal. And, that’s where the real fuel resides. That’s the important stuff. The logistics? Those can be figured out.
It’s tech week for the high school production of Guys & Dolls that I’ve been choreographing. There are fourteen boys performing a fast-paced 300 measure dance number. Dancing is not their forte. At all. But, they’ve been rehearsing each 8-count endlessly. Every time I turn my head, there they are– counting and watching one another and giving pep talks. And, I have a feeling that on opening night they are going to kill it, or at least that their enthusiasm is going to speak far louder than virtuosity. I think a lot about this as I’m swimming (and breathing) comfortably in my sea of Big Things.