Let It Go
The mysterious “they,” those dispensers of sage wisdom, say that your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. Over the last week, I have realized that they are absolutely, 100% right. A long chain of events, mostly good and joyful (friends seeing my play! Teaching yoga! Celebrating closing with my cast!) led me to some major sleep deprivation by Sunday evening. I resolved to treat myself right in the coming week, to sleep well, eat well, and take care of my trooper of a body.
Instead, Monday found me crisscrossing the city. Audition. Quick change into yoga clothes. Spring to Whole Foods. Buy many vegetables. Impatiently wait for the train home. I made a glorious lunch before my voice lesson, but open sitting down to eat, I discovered that I had, literally literally (I think that’s a thing that needs to be said now), two minutes to eat my beautiful, healthful meal. I was furious with myself for being so inattentive to my needs, for not having adequate time to enjoy the fruits of my labor, for lacking even a moment to celebrate the fact that hey, I was having kale with my lunch, and I was loving it.
My greatest strength, or at least a great strength, is being able to do more. I absorb activities like a sponge. I string events one atop the next like I was making a macaroni necklace. One, and then the next, and then the next. I carry more bags, well, than anyone ever should carry. I buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries and then begin the agonizing walk to the train. I go to dance classes, I start new hobbies, I learn monologues, I bake cookies. And the upside is that I am in incredibly efficient and productive person.
But the downside…well, it was my lunch staring back at me. I didn’t taste a single bite. It’s not ever giving myself the freedom to enjoy what I’m doing, to even find a single breath in which to say “Well done” or “That was fun,” because it’s time to race down the steps, catch the next train, pull out my book, and move on.
I’ve thought a lot about why, why I feel the need to jam my schedule so tightly that it requires a crowbar to find just a little bit of leisure time. Part of it comes from my great love of most, if not all, of the things I do. That’s the positive aspect, that I have so many interests and aspirations that I am pulled in many different directions at the same time.
Part of it is control. I have not always been able to control whether I have an acting gig, that grand hallmark of success and the most dreaded question for any unemployed actor: “What’s coming up next for you?” I have not always been able to control how much yoga I teach, or whether I have a boyfriend, or what size clothes I was fitting into. But I could control how busy I kept myself, and I found that others found this busy-ness quite impressive on some level. “I don’t know how you do it.” “You’re crazy.” I would just shrug and grin- but in truth, I needed that praise. Badly.
And part of it is desperation. When I overcrowd my own life, I am looking to be enough by doing more. If I become fluent in Latin AND play the ukulele AND knit baby blankets AND if I could actually be in two places at once, then that would be best of all. Then I would be superhuman, which is apparently what I’m aiming for, and maybe then it would feel like enough.
I don’t want to wait for the day I can teleport, or fly, or shoot spiderwebs out of my hands. I want to be enough now. It feels like saying goodbye to a very old, dear friend. Together, we have accomplished so much. But I need to put on the brakes before we run each other into the ground. I might never be a great Latin orator, and I might never make my sweet baby niece a cable-knit sweater. But I will find the time to listen to a Gregorian chant, and to read Goodnight Moon. I am growing more expansive. It is time for my life to make some room.