A few days ago I wrote a post about how I was feeling: depleted, overwhelmed, stressed and depressed with a clear, desperate need for real self-care and down time. Yet I ended that post with a to-do list, more or less – which speaks to the cultural indoctrination I’m participating in to remedy spiritual needs with material, temporal, physical solutions. And let me tell you – that doesn’t work. Or at least, it doesn’t fully work – freedom isn’t found in a cup of lemon water or yoga asana. Freedom is an inside job, and it requires letting go of the obstacles which stand it it’s way.
See, freedom is our natural state. We’ve been potty training my (almost) two year old son the past few weeks, which means he spends a considerable amount of time running around naked. After about a week of potty training, I realized he actually prefers being naked (duh). At the beach one day, after building a sandcastle, my son had a bunch of sand in his pants, and he came to me, pointed to his shorts, tugged on them, and said “mommy – take off.” My husband was hesitant to let him run around au natural since we were on a public beach, but we decided to let him be comfortable. After stripping off the sandy shorts, my sweet little boy stretched his arms to the heavens, spun around and said, “free, mommy! Free!” And he ran off joyously, unencumbered by clothing and arbitrary standards of “decency.”
It got me thinking about the metaphorical layers we wear for propriety’s sake: the countless ways in which we try to make ourselves more acceptable or palatable to society by covering up our real selves. For me personally, this masking has manifested itself in many different ways over the years: trying to be Christian enough for the church, yogic enough for the ashram, pinterest-y enough for the mom squad, vegan enough for the animal rights activists, the list goes on. But freedom isn’t found by fitting a square peg in a round hole, or by masking ourselves well enough to fit into a particular box. Freedom is climbing out of the box and realizing how much space exists – it’s recognizing we ARE the space.
Two of the driving factors in my recent quest towards greater freedom have been consumption and comparison. I realized that I was making myself sick by constantly scrolling through the opinions, ideas, and experiences of other humans as filtered and presented through social media. So I deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone, and I’m playing with a new way of expressing myself in the digital landscape: free journaling here, on my blog. It’s a form of creative expression that allows me to externally process (without actually, you know, speaking to anyone). It gives me room to express, emote, and simultaneously experience my own thoughts and feelings, without the need for a glossy photo or a snappy 140 character container. It lets me ramble, rant, rave, reflect, respond, and receive the downloads that I need to receive. Writing is free therapy, and I’m currently doing a daily dose of this particular type of creation.
But I’m not limiting #TheCreationProject to writing on my blog – no, definitely not. Because it’s not about getting a reaction or validation from other people. This particular project is about creating space to create – in whatever form the creation desires to emerge. It’s about making more time to get in my garden and plant flowers, to build a new meditation altar with my husbands power tools (send prayers please), to get back to painting, to access the right-brain beauty and wonder which have escaped me for far too long. It’s about committing to heightened sensual experience – with food, dance, sex, watching sunsets, feeling the sand under my toes – and allowing myself to become more with each moment of attention. It’s recognizing that my soul chose this exact moment, this exact experience, with all it’s ups and downs – that my spirit aligned with the will of God to bring me to this precise place, time, and sensation – and agreeing to be here now, fully present and willing to love myself regardless of how I compare to the expectations I may have set for myself and my life.
I want to feel as free as little Tanner on the beach, to meet each day enchanted by the immense possibility it holds, to feel no shame around being completely myself, and beyond that, to experience the pure joy of the present moment. I want to become curious again, willing to be mystified by the workings of the natural world. I want to fall madly in love with myself – as I am right now – not the person I hope to become, but the woman who is typing this post. I’m ready to lay down my arms against myself, and marvel at the goodness God has already created in me. My freedom is of paramount importance – it matters more than money, success, notoriety, recognition, accolades, status, and people-pleasing.
So my intention is this: Abide in the impulse to create (rather than the impulse to consume) and to move towards everything that feels like freedom.