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A Life Outside the Defaults

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” - Annie Dillard

Life has become both narrower and wider for me. Narrower because the clarity of where I want to go makes me hyper-aware of when I am going off-path and my body is quick to get sick. It’s like when a prisoner's ankle alarm goes off when certain boundaries are crossed. Except this is the opposite. The alarm goes off not when I break out but when I allow myself to be caged in. My body goes off — so many aches, fevers, mysterious allergies, colds, coughs, migraines...

But if the path is kept true then my life grows wider (and wilder) and deeper, because everything then opens up, both inside and outside of myself.

Today begins my third week of trying to shape my every day closer to the life I want to live. This is despite the particular challenges of the quarantine on most people’s economic status. Logic dictates I should set aside the art and focus on the dayjob if I want a chance at long-term stability. But logic has never had a good streak in my history. Its wins always came with losses that took their toll upon the spirit, while my illogical and irrational decisions always somehow brought me immeasurable gifts of the heart.

"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls." (Joseph Campbell)

There is a quiet underlying terror in defying the defaults. I can feel the uncertainty in every thing, and how I am not always supported with every step I make. I battle with insomnia on many nights, with every moment between the deep night and the dawn are crossroads of many inner trials.

But in the fullness of the morning a particular clarity returns. So I make the choices that align with my heart, and deliberately walk the path of impossibles.

I am learning to pull back from what does not sustain and feed me as I need to grow. I am learning not to feel guilty for not meeting default expectations that harm my inner well-being. I take my time in many ways, in slowness and in numbers. I spread my generosity to myself as much as to those who need my help. I make space and give full attention for what needs doing but I have become stricter that no liberties are taken with what is sacred to me. I am learning to ask for what I need and what I deserve and for what is only fair -- and not be apologetic nor feel guilty.

I am learning how to compromise in a way that does not always put me on the losing end. I am learning to remember that a compromise is supposed to be a short-term thing. It is a meantime solution, but I must not be lulled into thinking it is the only solution.

So I move forward this week with a little more courage than I had a week ago, even a little more wisdom, perhaps. Because I realised that the world did not end when I said no to things I've always wanted to say no to, and when I said yes to the things I've always wanted to say yes to. I can dare to live a life outside the defaults. I can try for a life that seems impossible for now. But, who knows?

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