A life list to help me see in color again

I've been away. Nothing bad, nothing horrifying. No fires, no floods, no deaths. Just my status quo. A few months, a few weeks, a few days on; a few days, a few weeks, a few months off. When I go back to grayscale I feel like Me, the color Me, the Real Me, the Me where the funny comes from, where the beauty comes from, where the hope and balance and significance that make up the Me I am supposed to be are all so very, very far away. Sometimes I go to bed and wake up as if my burdens have magically lifted and I can move forward with my real life. Other times it takes a long, miserable journey, trudging through doubt and hopelessness. Trying to make it back to shore before I drown when I know I don't know how to swim.

The fact of the matter is that I am a hot, sweaty mug of Crazy, and I censor myself to try to show people just the positive parts of me. I've written hundreds of tweets and not sent them because they were too real. I've dozens of drafts begun but never published. I don't want you to see what is affecting me at the moment unless it's happy. My greatest fear is that those I am closest to will discover my other side. In my professional life, my customers often tell me that I'm the most cheerful person they've ever met. While I chuckle and smile at their comments, in the quiet, dark part of my mind I'm proud of that accomplishment. The greatest trick I ever pulled was to convince the world that I was always happy.

Depression is rough. It's a cancer of the mind. It drifts in and out, surfacing to deceive the the brain and convince you that there is no way out. But I'd be shortchanging my loved ones if I truly believed that they didn't know I struggled. Of course they know. In fact, to think that they wouldn't understand is ignorant of me because they struggle themselves. And if I'm honest, then my loved ones will know just exactly what is going on, rather than having to guess at how bad things are going to get before I find clarity again. Selling somebody, anybody, only the best parts of yourself is a lie. And in all conscience, I don't think that I should hide the worst of me. From my worst comes my intuition. My inspiration. My humor, my art, my passion, my heartbreak all come from the same place.

"Whenever you're involved in spiritual practice, you're saying to yourself ... 'if I keep the rhythm, in some way, it will connect me profoundly to the heartbeat of the universe.'"

--Rabbi Joey Wolf

 

I've had this quote in a note on my phone since last spring. It hit a nerve. "Spiritual practice" is very broad; I don't believe it has to apply to any sort of organized religion. I believe what we're talking about here is listening to yourself and respecting that which inspires you and allowing yourself the privilege to engage in those activities that feed your soul. When you are moving in the right direction, when you are keeping the rhythm of who you know you truly are, could you not argue that this connects you, profoundly, to the heartbeat of the universe?

I started writing my life list last spring. It was clarifying though I never finished it. I got to number 86 and entered another patch of being afraid to indulge in the things that make me feel authentic. I love lists, and love the idea of putting down one hundred little goals outside of going to work and coming home and making dinner and going to bed. One hundred things that make me feel like the world is actually very, very large and that maybe my destiny isn't yet determined. If I wait until the sadness passes before I re-engage with that which makes me Me then the fight is so much harder, the grays so much darker. Somehow, just the fantasy of breaking things down into 100 little adventures reconnects me. When I tire of looking at it I'll start knocking them off, one by one. My list is in no particular order. If you've never written a life list, I highly recommend you overcome the cliche of it all and think hard about what you, the Real You, would want to do.

1. Sing
2. See a full dinosaur fossil, strung up like you always see in movies
3. Meditate daily
4. Live within walking distance of a good bakery
5. Accept change
6. Stick to a budget
7. Have no credit card debt
8. Grow herbs
9. Paint a room purple
10. Write a self-deprecating and therefore approachable self-help book
11. Perform in a play
12. See the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows in New York
13. Live someplace where great food is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner if desired
14. Wear dresses
15. Learn to sew
16. Let go of anger
17. Respond with enthusiasm
18. Learn Spanish
19. Learn French
20. Live near a belltower
21. See the pyramids
22. Study archaeology
23. Visit Washington, D.C.
24. Rent a little gallery on a streetcorner with a little yard and live upstairs
25. String lights across a rooftop garden
26. Make decent cocktails
27. Get rid of many of our possessions
28. Leave Utah forever
29. Have an espresso machine again
30. Not worry about how other people's emotions will affect me
31. Write a weekly column for syndication
32. Get a handle on my anxiety
33. Go to yoga classes
34. Live within walking distance of a bar
35. Learn to play the guitar
36. Write a book about cutting and self-harm
37. Have friends for cocktail parties or canning parties or just to hang in the backyard and grill with
38. Affect somebody that needs help
39. Feel certain
40. Jump out of a plane
41. Learn to swim
42. Feel like I belong
43. See Petra
44. Not have a mortgage
45. Brew beer
46. Play the piano, Tom Waits style
47. Know how to grow and choose and make the best of most vegetables
48. Go mountain biking
49. Learn how to ballroom dance
50. Scuba dive
51. Stop sabotaging myself
52. Eat pizza in Rome
53. Live near a large library
54. Have a lemon tree
55. Learn how to take great photos
56. Build a whole website
57. Graphic design
58. Blow glass
59. Taste barrel-aged tequila
60. Drink a Mai-Tai in a real tiki bar
61. Take a class about art deco
62. Only need to make enough money to live and play, not to sustain debt payments
63. Produce videos
64. Commute using a bike
65. Own an old working typewriter; the kind where each letter is a raised key on an arm
65. Fly a plane
66. Eat fresh French bread from a Parisian bakery before the sun comes up
67. Live near a farmers' market I can visit a few times a week
68. Eat tapas and drink sherry in Spain
69. Make canapes
70. Ride on a trolley car
71. Study philosophy
72. Design a font
73. Have a properly stocked wine cellar
74. See an olive tree
75. Make cheese
76. Be a scholar of something
77. Know compassion without fear of being swallowed up
78. Get through an airport alone
79. Carry cash
80. Cook from Vincent Price's cookbook
81. Have the flower patterns from my old plates tattooed as part of a whole shoulder down to forearm design
82. Learn to tango
83. Go to Comic-Con
84. Eat raclette in Switzerland
85. Visit a vineyard
86. Eat real ramen noodles
87. Wear high heels
88. Help people
89. Engage with people on a very real level without booze
90. Take pole dancing classes
91. Make pottery on a pottery wheel
92. Release regret
93. Acknowledge beauty
94. Delight in being alive
95. Write on using old cookbooks for anthropology and sociology
96. Improve my posture
97. Go hang gliding
98. Stop seeking approval
99. Give my husband my best and my worst
100. Bleach my hair white

 

Solidarity.

--Kristina

www.OnBlank.com

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