When they were wild
When they were not yet human
When they could have been anything,
I was on the other side ready with milk to lure them,
And their father, too, the name like a net in his hands.
- Louise Erdrich
The truth is we begin to be shaped by our environment before we are even born. Physically and emotionally. From the micro to the macro. Our parents, our society, our socio-economic standing, our geography...all of this and more begins molding us from conception. And it never lets up. We are constantly being shaped by forces external to ourselves. And internal too. Personality is present in the womb and certainly in the new-born babe. And then internal meets external. Nature and nurture combines...and continues to combine. On and on until death. And beyond, for all I know.
I see this quote come across my social media feed from time to time. About how “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about UnBecoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” And I like it. It is epic and full of inspiration and aspiration. It asks us to throw off the messaging we receive from our loved ones, our society, our culture, our entertainment, our spiritual communities; all the things we have had heaped on top of our natures that don’t resonate with who we are at our core. All the power structures that fit us into slots that don’t actually fit. All the hopes and dreams that those who love us wish for us but aren't what we wish for ourselves. All the goals and ideals we set for ourselves when we just follow the path set down for us; when we just float along with the agenda provided for us. It is a call to untether oneself from things like money and power and the patriarchy. Untethering yourself from the idea that you are not enough. Untethering yourself from the societal ideas of what success looks like. Untethering...so that you might soar. Yes. I like it.
But this last time I read it, it felt more humble and full of the internal. A call to look at my habits; at my day-to-day. And I am pondering if they are a help or a hindrance. So much of what we become is on accident, really. A phase that became a lifetime. A survival mechanism that became a way of being. Or a random event that sent you down a random path. Not all of them are bad. Some of them are quite grand. And some of them are parts not useful and parts grand, which gets tricky. But I am feeling that a sorting of myself is in order if I am going to proceed into the future of what I was meant to be in the first place. And honestly, it feels delightful to be here.
You see, another thing that contributes to not being the person you were meant to be is time. We rarely have enough of it. And a lot of what we do have is spent preparing for tomorrow. But I’m pretty focused on the present right now. It’s an interesting place to be. I am not thinking about securing my future. I am not filling my schedule based on economic need or desire. Of course I am not idle; I just have a lot more time with which to manage my life. Chores are how I fill chunks of my day. Which is a much more reasonable approach to life than being forced to cram them into an already packed day. Chores aren’t chores. They are part of life. Interesting thought...now that women and men fairly equally create the workforce I think a 30 hour “work” week is the way to go. Revolutionary. Right? But imagine a world where that is the case. Where you truly had time for the nuts and bolts as well as leisure. We control the pace, by the way. If everyone goes slower, everyone can go slower. Not that I am expecting Americans, of all people, to come to supper at that table. But even if the world doesn’t join you it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a personal revolution.*
Mind you, it isn’t just time that has created this shift. Last year the pandemic shut my business down completely for 2.5 months and those months did NOT look like this. This is a values shift. And if that value shift manages to productively meet the process of taking stock of my life, my habits, my behaviors and where I focus my energy...well, there will be some magic there. That for sure would create a place where Spirit has room to overwhelm my soul.
But the world is loud and full of outrage and ridiculousness. And my habits are deeply seated. It is easy to become distracted and stuck. Besides that, grand plans for balance! and change! are fool’s errands anyway. Personal success is usually quieter, slower and more rambling than that. So, as has become my way, I am going to look for first steps. I am going to look for the next right thing. And then the next right thing after that. And really that just means looking at new things to do with all that time I have gifted to myself. Or old things that I remember as satisfying but forgot to keep doing. Call back to myself things I loved but lost along the way.
That’s it. No big thing. My aspiration is to just get on with BEING the person I was meant to be in the first place. Spring is, after all, in the air. It’s a good time for it.
*While I am blessed and privileged, I think all but the truly desperate among us have this ability. And maybe even the truly desperate...but that is Herculean. And I see that.