organics and potential
There is a lot to be said for grabbing the life you want and making it happen. Unfortunately, I've never had the ambition to follow through on this kind of dogged determination. Call it lazy, but I think of it as living organically. In other words, I tend to let the path unfold before me as it will - since I believe there isn't a lot I can do to change it anyway. For the most part, this has been an okay way to live.
But there are areas where only living "organically" has been a bit problematic.
Marriage, for instance. This actually came up at one of our recent therapy sessions, which we attend because therapy is just awesome.
Joel and I have always had a very organic, easy connection. We speak the same language, love the same things (for the most part), and very rarely have core conflicts. In other words, we have actually never had to work at being married.
Until now. 2010 did a lot to put our relationship low on our list of priorities. It's always been easy, so we mistakenly thought we could take it for granted...that our connection and affection would always carry us through anything. Well, not so.
Funny story...he totally teases me lately because in a moment of sheer honesty and broken immaturity, I swollen-faced weeped to him, "I just feel so MAAAARRRRIIIEEEDD." He completely laughed (another testament to his strength of character and solid foundation), and hugged me.
"Well, babe...it if will help, we can always divorce and then have a torrid affair."
This was enough to scrape me off the bathroom floor and hug that beast of a man.
As a way to reconnect, our therapist reiterated that marriages stay passionate only through practice. When I curled my lip in disgust at that word (practice), she noticed my visible disdain. I explained to her that I can coat it in all kinds of psychological jargon, but in complete honesty, I have simply always disliked the idea of doing something I don't want to do. It's a rebellion strong and swift in my soul. When I complained, explaining that my relationship with Joel has always been very organic and easy, and that I intrinsically distrust MAKING things happen inorganically, she gentle reminded me that we are no longer dating or even newlyweds and to stop expecting the old relationship to carry two new people. After 10 years of dating and 9 years of marriage, the novelty is wearing off; we've encountered some difficult situations that put marriage on the back-burner...and that I had a choice to either sit down with my hands crossed in the middle of the street and refuse to move because my marriage wasn't what it used to be OR I could accept the reality, determine that it was worth fighting for, and JUST DO IT. Start practicing.
In order to practice at marital connection, she suggested we start setting aside time for "intimacy" dates. There is no agenda, but the point is to set up an environment where the potential for connection is present. So far, it's been much more organic than I thought it would be (hell, we've always been good at dating, I'm not sure what I was afraid of), and I am relieved and thrilled to report that our connection is flowing and easy again. Only this time, because we've prioritized it in a fierce, new way, it feels like a more nuanced, more complex connection. It is richer, stronger, and vastly more satisfying. While I had relinquished myself to the woes of marriage (lacking the rush you get when you meet a new person, no more intense, breathless surges of passion, etc.), I think I gave up too easily on fighting for those emotions. Novelty isn't the goal of marriage, but the great thing about WORKING on your marriage is that novelty is still around the corner, even with the same person. It may not happen organically, but it can be practiced. And like anything rote and repetitive, you begin to acquire and hone skills you never thought possible.
The awareness this whole "setting up the potential for intimacy" peaked my curiosity about my rebellion as it applies to and informs my art. I want desperately to be the artist I know I can be, but when my life stacks up against me (I can't afford to stay home etc), I completely let myself get defeated and fall back into the status quo life I'm so comfortable living (until my artist pricks me in the gut and sends me spiraling to misery - and that's if I am lucky).
In addition to the potential for intimacy, I've determined to set aside time for the potential of poetry. One of my 2011 goals was to write a book of poetry, but if I am totally out of practice writing even in my journal (which I confess I've been very lazy about) and writing letters, how can I expect to sit down and write a poem? It simply doesn't work that way for me. I HAVE TO PRACTICE at the work.
Initially, again - I rebel. I have to fight the voice that tell me it's only worth writing when I feel inspired. Sometimes that glorious muse falls upon me and I can write and write and write. Most of the other times, it will only flow if I've kept the steady stream of daily writing as a priority.
So now I am working on a writing schedule, setting aside calendar time for the potential of poems, for the potential to reconnect with myself, to BE who I want to be - even if I often forget who that is and (gasp) have to MAKE myself do it. I have no expectations, and when I first accepting myself as a writer, I promised myself I would never force anything. I just know that writing is good for me; if that's all the good that ever comes from it - it will still be absolutely worth it. I also know it's not happening organically, but maybe - just maybe (she says dubiously) stubbornly refusing to practice her art unless attended by the muse is yet another way for a scared-shitless artist to justify mediocrity.
To your own potential,