A friend once asked me why I dated someone that she thought ill-suited for me not long after I graduated from college. It was a casual relationship, truly a dating relationship, we would go to minor league baseball games, out to dinner, to movies, cook together, once every few weeks. I had told him when he first asked me out that my priority was teaching and that if he was looking for a girlfriend, I wasn’t the girl. He told me he was happy to just date casually if that’s what I needed/ wanted. He wasn’t who I would spend the rest of my life together, I knew, but I still liked enjoyed our time together.
“But why is that?” My long-time friend asked. And it only took one second for me to answer.
“Because he doesn’t have any pre-conceived notion of who I am from being around me when I was in high school, or in college, or as a high-school teacher, or anything else. He just knows me right now as who I am when I spend time with him.”
I recognized in this answer that one of the personas that I wanted to have in my life was that of a fun-loving girl without the pressure I put on myself to save myself, my family, the kids that I taught, the world. Sometimes I just wanted to be and dating JD allowed me a place to just exist without any expectation. It made me realize that part of what I wanted in my life was at least some time that didn’t have to be product or purpose centered.
It’s incredibly hard for me not to be productive or purposeful all the time, but it is a necessary part of the creative process and I think just plain old human evolution to rest, to observe, to just be. I am wrapping up my first week of my semi-sabbatical and I have just ambled along with my tasks this week in a way that is unfamiliar. There wasn’t a single deadline to meet this week which allowed the week to unfold very organically, even willy-nilly. I worked a little on my syllabus for the body image class I am teaching this fall, worked some on Circle de Luz items, did some scratching (a great word that Twyla Tharp uses to describe brainstorming) on a book project that I want to write the proposal on soon. I even “skipped school” to go to a movie– this from a girl who never skipped school as a student and certainly not as a teacher. Nurturing your inner creative is a funny thing. You think that you should stuff it with things and then it will produce. But that’s not it at all. Your inner creative needs room to just be, to scratch a little here, bend a little there, formulate outside of your conscious knowing. Then- in a flash- in the shower, during your commute, or on your run, it delivers a strike of lightening across your mind and you say, “Of course!” I am making room right now for the lightening to strike: scratching and being, reading and sitting. I am nurturing the little idea roots in my head to come out as whatever they want. I am giving them room, the way that JD did for me years ago.