making peace with a different pace
It's crazy how much work it takes to not always be working. How much effort is required to be effortless. How much focus is needed to make a restful mind.
I spent the month of September on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest. My aim was to slow down, get inspired, and get back to basics. Every time I step away from the city for a break I'm reminded how bad I am at relaxing. My breaks in LA are never really passive. My brain is always working on something, even if my fingers aren't.
It takes me a solid week to wash the city grind off my skin and shake loose from my hair. This trip was no different and I appreciated all the opportunities to be restless, anxious, future focused, frustrated about all those feelings, and then frustrated about being frustrated about those feelings.
I recently listened to a great Sounds True podcast interviewing Bonnie Badenoch who talks about 'welcoming every part of ourselves' in order to integrate and heal, especially in moments of judgement. I let my whole self come to the table and did my best to appreciate every facet, including the resistant, restless bits that felt frustrated for not being more productive while I was traveling.
At it's deepest level, my incessant desire to work is driven by insecurity. What I mean by that is: my sense of self worth is so directly linked to my output, that when I'm not working I can easily slip into a state of anxiety. It's easy to justify my unhealthy habits by calling it creative drive and passion. But every life needs balance regardless of the nature of the work.
The art I make is a massive part of my identity. And while my work says a lot about who I am, it is not me. I am something far greater, far more expansive, and far more beautiful than anything that I could ever create in this lifetime, and I believe that to be true about all of us and the work we make. Part of my journey is to appreciate who I am outside of all of the things that I do, and learn how to appreciate who I'd be if all of those things suddenly fell away.
By the end of a trip well played I feel like I've gotten back to my essence. And if I'm lucky, I've even tuned up my ability to be present and gotten pretty good at being exactly where I am without worrying so much about what's next. Perhaps it's the city that makes it hard to stay fully in the moment and love ourselves even when we're doing absolutely nothing. But perhaps it's routine of any kind that does that; a dusty film that's a byproduct of repetition that gets in the way of the purest parts of life - and the purest parts of ourselves.
Even if someday I move out to the country full time, I imagine that a change of pace will still be helpful whenever I need to shift perspective, recenter and appreciate my whole-self.