Free and Clear

by Jennifer on October 23, 2011

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.  I would go to more dances.  I would ride more merry-go-rounds.  I would pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair

I fantasized about it for a few nights before it happened…when I couldn’t sleep I thought about it.  And then, last Saturday, the time had come and I finally did it.  I got into my closet and began pulling clothing off the shelves and hangers.  I emptied every bathroom drawer and sorted through everything.  I got the last two piles of things sorted in my studio.  I know that might not sound like the glamorous or exciting stuff you thought I might be fantasizing all those nights about before bed…but let me tell you why it was so much more thrilling than it may seem…

You see, it was all part of a systematic plan.  I had spent the days before going diligently through my to do list, and catching up on countless emails.  So going through my “stuff” that needed a clearing was the final piece.  When I was done, I glowed.  I was radiant.  All of my energy flowed freely, and I got down on the floor of my creative room, on the cotton pad and furry blankets and pillows and…just let go.  I played my guitar…I wrote…I dreamed…

You see, I knew that was coming.  I’ve done it enough that I know that as soon as I make the space, no matter how absolutely and relentlessly diligent I have to be to get there, what fills that space is creativity.  Not because I have to force myself or plan that part at all.  It is just what happens.  Like a magnet finally able to move in the way its nature has been begging it to.  Like a butterfly when it is ready to be born.  In fact, it is only when I can absolutely set aside anything and everything that would require something of me that I too find my own nature and how it moves again.  It is only when I stop cultivating my growth long enough that I find out how I grow wild again.

The other night I saw a dance performance with five or six little girls in it between the ages of maybe six and twelve.  What I loved most was how freely they moved.  How they each did the same moves very differently, but they didn’t care…in fact it made it all the more unique.  They didn’t care because they were laughing…they didn’t care because they were having fun.

Later in life, dance performances, like other performances and productions, become serious and are often judged harshly.  We are supposed to look just like everyone else in the group.  We are supposed to blend.  As we do in choreographed dances, we learn the moves expected of us in life.  We learn the moves we think we need to learn in order to please others, in order to do what we think we must to survive in the world.  We forget.  We forget the old movements we once made that have no steps, no plan, no pressure, no expectation.  We forget the movements that flow from a happy and free spirit.  We even forget what a happy and free spirit is.

When I was a little girl I loved that poem about picking more daisies.  I had a little framed version of part of it that I kept near me in a special place.  Throughout my life I have stayed barefoot as long as I can, and am almost never found to miss a dance party.  I even used to go to school sometimes still wet from an afternoon dive in the ocean, or to forget to wear my shoes afterward.

Sometimes when I hang out with my little girlfriends in my neighborhood who I love so much, I want to tell them…I want to tell them that childhood doesn’t have to be the only free time in your life.  I want to tell them that being an “adult” doesn’t have to mean giving up play, and fun…that you can actually have all that fun and the autonomy that is missing as a child too, making it even better…that you just have to be really diligent about never really growing up, never getting so stuck that you can’t find your way back…

Gabrielle Roth said, “It takes tremendous discipline to be a free spirit.”  I couldn’t agree more.  In fact it is the discipline of my lifetime.  It is the discipline that sets me free.  After all, I also agree with David Campbell who says, “Discipline is remembering what you want.”  And I want to be free.

There are a million ways to be tied up in this life, and held back, and entrenched.  There are bills, emails, obligations, family needs, expectations, details to manage…it is almost endless.  But it isn’t quite.  You can still get free.  You just have to step out of it all long enough to hear the voice of your own being again.  It knows just what to do.  You just have to steal the moments you can, and let everything drop away sometimes.  You just have to think in ways some people would find absurd, and which are actually genius, and which will give you the moments that make life worth living.

The other day I had to spend two hours on the phone with four different customer service departments to right an error made by one of them…it was the most terribly tedious kind of thing you can imagine.  But it needed to be done.  When it was through I felt squished inside.  It had been meant as an afternoon off, and instead I felt I used my life force in one of the least important ways I felt I could have.

Sometimes these kinds of things almost drive me crazy…I am the first to admit it.  I feel that it would be hard for me to dig out of the hole of unfinished business I find myself in.  But that is when I find my best brilliance.  That is when I call for the magical golden rope that pulls me out and sets me on sunlit grass again…and I walk into the horizon.  Because everything gets done eventually, but none of it is worth losing my spark.  That spark is my forever guiding light.

So I become a radical strategist, in the name of my own freedom.  In every step I take I attempt to make more room, in the most efficient way, to walk barefooted and pick more daisies.  And what do I get?  Miracles.  All that miracles require is taking risks…and so I do it daily.  I already know what I have to lose, and that I would lose it by settling.

I have space for two things in my life…highly scheduled time where I get stuff done…and totally unscheduled time where I am totally free to feel, and to create.  That’s the way I’ve found my secret doorway that keeps me able to visit my own secret garden.

And it is okay if you haven’t visited yours in so long that it is overgrown, and feels like somebody else’s.  If you can make your way there, just pull the vines away from a bench and spend some time there.  Soon you will notice the old wild roses peeking out from under the brush.  You will see that everything is still there, everything that is yours…everything that is fertile and abundant…the food of your life and soul.  And suddenly you won’t be hungry anymore, in that way that makes your heart ache constantly.  Before you know it you will have picked up your tools and you will be pulling the overgrown weeds away from your beautiful flowers, and they will grow wild and free again.

It might take something drastic…a trip somewhere maybe.  Disconnecting from electronica (email, cell phone…) for a short time.  A couple of days, or longer, spent in nature.  Nature will always return you to your own nature, if you give it time.  In fact, if you give yourself the time and space, without any expectation of immediately working on something creative, you will find that creative spark comes of its own accord.

Run free, beautiful soul.  It’s not too late.  The daisies are waiting…

Love, Jennifer

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