I've been reading a lot of self-improvement, life-help kind of things lately. Don't ask why. They just crop up. Well, actually, there's one blog I really like that talks about that, and I've been clicking on a few links it gave, and before you know it, my google reader is full of Zen and stuff.
Now I'm all for Zen and stuff. Kinda. I like decluttering. But I also like clutter. No contradiction here, or conflict. Some particular clutters I count as my friends, some just bother me. Right now, one clutter that's bothering me is the number of posts I'm reading on simplicity.
One I read recently said that simplicity is good because it helps us make good decisions. A woman had cut down her life activities to just two: mothering and blogging about mothering. She'd dropped competitive running and an online business. She said it helped her focus and not procastinate. She said it helped her be a better mother. She said she would teach her kids about simplicity. Also, there was a family mission statement included somewhere, something you can refer to when you have to make a decision.
When I picture to myself the kind of family these posts hold out as a model, they're always dressed in white. Usually the mother and the children are blond. The father sometimes has darker hair. But he's very clearly caucasian. Possibly Canadian. Also, they're tall, and slim, and fit. The parents smile, the children laugh. They're outside. There's a ball, some water. And that's it.
I can't wear white. Nor can my husband and children. And it's not because it doesn't suit our skin tones. No idea what does or doesn't. We just get it stained. Always, within the first few minutes. Also, although we're blondish, our hair doesn't stay still. It's not smooth or bouncy. More like jungle hair (and yet not curly). Also, we don't actually spend time just bouncing a ball outside and looking photogenic. We go to work and school, we shop, go to the gym (yay!), to piano lessons, special ed classes (all the time), to the newly re-opened bar, to friends' houses, holidays, etc. Our lives aren't simple. They're busy. Not too busy, but busy enough. And we like it that way.
Let's be honest, does any body really want to be like the people in the family I just described? When you're tired of being you, wish you were somebody else, or when you're daydreaming about what you might become, how you might change your life, do you ever picture yourself like this? For more than 30 seconds? I certainly don't, so I'm questioning my late fascination with all these zenish posts.
Procastination, lack of focus, both these things are good. Do you remember when you fell in love? Were you busy doing what you were supposed to do, were you focussing on something? How about last time you had a laugh, a great big laugh with a friend, or family? We procrastinate because we have other things we fancy doing and they're more fun. Well, yes. To put it bluntly, no 'mission' is so great that there's never going to be anything else that right now seems like it would be more fun. And that's good, because I don't reckon a family in white is likely to come up with a mission statement that will enable its members to make the right decision everytime. Making the right decision is, more often than not, a question of letting go, of being relaxed enough in the midst of endless complications that you can get it just right. A bit like Luke, removing the visor and going with the force in the tunnel to the Death Star. Except without the voice of Obiwan in the background saying 'Go with the force, Luke' (which would be pretty cool). Except also, without realising that's what you're doing.
Because us, human beings, are not simple beings. We can no more live a simple life than we can dress in white all the time. We thrive in complexity. Our biggest pleasures, our richest moments come from skiving, procrastinating, switching off focus. But you can only really do that if you've got stuff to hide from and put off. If you've only got one role in life, and one that's clearly defined at that, why would you want to put it off? And if you did, how would that make you feel about yourself? If I can't be arsed to work on my book, I can always tell myself it's because I spent so much time preparing my teaching, or because I'm stressed out by Max's special needs education, or whatever. I get a pat on the back. From myself and everyone else. As long as I keep going mostly, it just doesn't matter if I miss a couple of steps along the way. As long as I have fun.
And you know what? I procrastinate a lot (how else do you think I'd find time to blog about zombies?). But in the end, most things still get done. And if they don't, then I probably didn't want to do them in the first place.