Friday, January 13, 2012

Frivolous ...

I have been having a conversation with three amazing women, only one of whom I know.

The other two are new in my life, since last week. I have yet to meet them, but I suppose it is unfair to say that I do not know them.

I know them. I know a bit about them, as much as one can glean in two conversations that have had to end.

These women are insightful in ways that I am not often insightful for myself.

Today, one of them said something so simple, I was literally struck dumb for a moment.

"I never thought of that," I finally managed to say.

I never thought of that.

In the first conversation, last week, I mentioned that I feel like too much of my life is frivolous. I had never described it that way before, and I was a little surprised when the word came out of my mouth. Frivolous. Frivolous. What a strange word.

Frivolous.

Look at it.

Frivolous.

It almost looks like nonsense.

There is this divide in my brain, this chasm that yawns between thoughts of things that I should do and things that bring me joy.

They are not the same things.

There is my mother's voice in my head (she hates when I use the word "mother," and it's true that she is not a "mother," she is very much a "mom"), telling me from a very young age that God gave me a very good brain.

I'll set the God component aside and own up to the very good brain part.

I'm smart. Really smart.

And I don't say that to boast, but to illustrate my point that being really smart predisposes me to believe that I have to do something with my life that very smart people do.

Many have told me I should go into politics.

No. No. A thousand times, no. The inanity would kill me.

Inanity. Rhymes with "insanity."

Politics, in its mature form, is certainly worthy. Politics, in its existing form, makes my stomach churn. And my head hurt. Who knew grown-ups could act that way? I've seen toddlers with better coping skills.

I am a leader, people tell me.

It has only now – literally, just seconds before I typed this – dawned on me that the only person I need to lead is myself.

I do not need to lead a team. Truly, I suck at delegating anyway. When I see something that I want done, I see the way I want it done, and I do it.

I needn't lead others directly.

Well. Huh. That's a good realization.

Way to go, brain.

I told the women about Patti Digh, my friend and author and all-around extraordinary gal, about her new web site and the daily rock.

"Do what you love," read the rock when I went to visit today.

It was later that I realized that I was looking at her home page and not her blog, which is the default page when anyone visits 37days.com and which features the true daily rock. No, the rock on her home page is static.

But still, today, as a message, it was important.

I've been making my way through Life is a Verb, her first book, which is not her first book, really, but which is the first book that came from her true self. Her earlier books were business books and I'm sure they're fine business books, as I can't imagine Patti turning in any work that is not fine, but when they arrived at her home, she felt nothing. No wonder. Patti is about as far away from traditional business as a woman can get.

Tonight, I flipped through it to read some of my notes in the margins and one of the first ones I wrote to myself was, "Importance is relative."

Why, yes, Beth, it is. And how nice of you to have already had that thought.

Importance is relative. What is important to me is very possibly not important to you.

Also, my brain is telling me that at the moment, I have no real way of knowing the future. Who knows what lies five years down the road? One year, for that matter. One week.

"When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life."
— Albert F. Geoffrey

Patti included that quote in a margin some pages later. Powerful. Veto power. (The politics association is not lost on me.)

What an amazing thing, letting go of expectations. Not expectations that others have of me. I clearly don't care about living up to those. If I did, everyone'd be sorely disappointed by now. But letting go of expectations I have of myself. The shoulds. The soul-crushing shoulds.

Should has gotten me nowhere. The Universe has kicked me out of every "should" situation I've tried.

Should. There's another weird word.

Should.

Who decides my shoulds?

Me.

Not other people or society at large.

"You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God's sake!"

I love that line, from "The Holiday."

Indeed.

And what could be less frivolous than that?

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