I think I’m starting to slowly become more aware of my choices. It’s a subtle thing and I can’t say my behaviour is hugely changing just yet, but it’s really starting to make a difference to how I feel about things.
This morning I thought I might like to get up in time to do some yoga. My body is stiff from a running race yesterday, and also I haven’t yoga’d in about 2 months. (Okay, in the back … maybe middle … maybe a little to the fore … are some of the weight-loss benefits of yoga, but mainly it was for “good for my body and mind” intentions.)
So, the way this would have gone old school:
10pm the night before rolls around. “Go to sleep you piece of shit, I can’t believe you’re wasting time again.” I would ignore this voice and continue to browse internet /read book /post on FB, seek stranger validation through comments, etc.
11pm. Point Plague Doctor shows up, whip in hand. “SLEEP NOWWWWW!”. I attempt to do so, but feel a nameless dread and upset and existential worry. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe 2 hours of tv watching or podcast listening, I will finally get to sleep. With the upcoming alarm and my commitment to early rising like dancing daggers of stress in the back of my skull.
X o’clock alarm rings. Earlier than it truly needs to be. I’m tempted to ignore it and “gift” myself with the sleep I now need after such a hard time getting to sleep the previous night. Point Plague Doctor shows up…
“Get UP! YOU PROMISE-BREAKER! YOU WORTHLESS TIME WASTER! YOU WILL NEVER CHANGE UNLESS I WHIP YOU INTO SHAPE!”
And then I drag my weary bones out of bed and yoga and write and whatever, and get frustrated with the inevitable children who are also awake and invading the early morning times and space which ought to be mine alone – don’t they know what I paid for this?!
Then I feel smug and accomplished and winning and tick a box in my mind marked “change and progress and self-improvement”, not even noticing the bruises and scarring on my psychological back from the Pointy Plague Doctor’s whip.
So, something has changed. And maybe the weirdest thing is that I don’t feel smug and self-satisfied about this change. I feel a little wary, a little tentative.
It’s all revolving around the word “choice”. When I spent a little longer than maybe wise playing iPad and watching “one more episode”, there was a reminding voice saying “You are choosing this, and by doing so you may be choosing no yoga in the morning.”
So then I chose to go to sleep, and it came pretty quickly, despite all the things running around in my head.
Morning came, I was tired and turned off the first alarm. But 20 minutes later, a glimmer of energy came to me – I chose to rise and do some yoga. I felt – not a demand or a whip to keep to a commitment, to change or improve – but, a little like when you crave some healthy fruit and vegetables. The world wasn’t going to end if I didn’t make the choice to yoga, and I wouldn’t have forced it if I were truly exhausted. But how I got to the decision felt different.
The yoga itself was interrupted by the early-awake children. I felt slightly less invaded and frustrated than I might have done, but I’m no saint, and when one pushed his chair on top of my mat, I did push back out of frustration. I feel shame around that. Maybe next time I’ll be able to pause in time. Maybe next time I’ll make a better choice.
If I give myself enough space in my life, there’s room to pause, and where there’s room for a pause, there’s space enough to make a choice. Not every choice will be a perfect one, but it feels a hell of a lot better to be actively making them than having the universe do it for me.
But now, I’m missing that smug euphoria of the other path. Sure, I don’t have the whip marks, but everything is a little too calm. It feels weird and I feel a bit unsure. Maybe it’s this all-encompassing responsibility that I’m suddenly facing up to. Because I’m finally noticing that my life is the sum of my own decisions – both those actively made and those made by avoidance and default – I guess I have to own all the frustrating and imperfect stuff around me too.
It’s a bit overwhelming. I need to draw. But I need to go to work first, I guess.