On life as I’m thinking about it these days

This is going to be very stream-of-consciousness.

After a weekend of dance (Ultima Vez x2, and a ball at Powell Library with Bright and Mauricio) I am all excited to try dancing again. I did some research today and found a few possible dance studios in my area, as well as an unexpectedly huge community of capoeiristas in the LA metro, so I’ll give capoeira a shot if the dancing doesn’t work out! I’ve had so much dancing energy in my body since the weekend, accompanied by tiredness from not-quite-enough sleep*. I’ve also been singing a lot and I think I’m getting better, probably from all the Om namah shivayas I do every week in class! Ideal life = dancing whenever there is music, singing whenever I feel like. Little kids live like that; why can’t we all?

I was feeling a little down last night after our critiques in comics class (Nunzio: “I’m just Mr Negativity today, aren’t I?”) — even though they were, as always, as nice as could be — and then I started leafing through Glamour and found this, Andrea Coller’s contest-winning essay on having cancer three times by age 27. I entered that contest myself, as part of my efforts to make more art and put it out in the world, and I couldn’t be happier that Coller won… though it’s not exactly a happy ending, as you’ll see if you read the essay and comments. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have cancer at my age, let alone have it come back three times. After I finished the essay I turned out the light, lay back in bed, and just hugged myself as fear, empathy, and gratitude rushed over me in equal measure. At first I thought how lucky I am to not have cancer as that extra wolf at my artistic door. But then I realized that cancer or not, we are all still dying. It’s the same end for everyone, and there’s no knowing when that end will come. So while it’s easier, more reasonable, for us the healthy to delude ourselves that we have time, if we really want to reach our heart’s desire, it doesn’t make sense to think that way. I feel that urgency a lot these days… I don’t ever want to look back and regret that I wasted my time.

And yet, on a day to day basis, it’s so hard to know quite the best way to live my life. I guess that’s why I’m always reminding myself, “I want to live in a beautiful apartment,” “I want to make art every day,” “I want to reach out to people I love,” “I want to strengthen and use my body,” “I want to stay healthy.” If we don’t remind ourselves, it really is easy to forget.

On that note, it occurred to me the other day that I’ve revised my view on what constitutes living life to the fullest. I used to think, though I never articulated it, that living most fully means taking everything that comes along: spending as much time as possible with friends and family, going out and experiencing every new restaurant and show and place, reading voraciously, and so forth. A couple of days ago, while writing my morning pages, I realized that these days I am much more appreciative of the absences and empty spaces in life: the silences, the refusals to go out, the hiatus from reading, the hiatus from shopping. I am coming to love these moments of stillness as much as I once loved (still do, in moderation) the chaos and excitement. These days, living life fully — for me — consists as much of this quiet experience as of the noisy exuberant other. Which reminds me of what meditation guru Sally Kempton told us in workshop, that enlightenment comes in the form of love and the form of nothingness.

Speaking of quietude versus exuberance, I had a really lovely interview with a potential tutor on Monday. We enjoyed each other so much, she actually hugged me afterward, which has never happened before. And I told her about my art, which I had never revealed to anyone at work before. While having lunch a bit later I mused on how readily people seem to open themselves up to me when I interview them, and concluded that it’s just because I’m the coordinator and they know I’m a caring person and they’re talking to me in confidence. Then, moments later, it hit me that I also listen better as a coordinator than I do as my usual self. Normally I have so much to say that it just spills forth and I’m the one telling people the story of my life. But when I am interviewing someone for work, I consider it my job to say little and let them express their thoughts. So I become very focused on them, and I try to really hear what they are saying and piece together their character from what they tell me. I think this has probably been a really good exercise for me, because I (alas, such a revelation!) am really not a good listener in usual life! I must try to work on this.

It’s time for bed. Good night, loves.

*Today a careless miscalculation led me to overtip my lunch server by $10… I had to call afterward and ask that it be changed, which didn’t feel good even if it was justified!

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]