Enjoying the process

After my last post, I got sick. Sigh. No covid, just a cold that wouldn’t quit. I got better for a week and a half and then, ew, again. But worse. Being sick is exhausting, and this bout in particular made me miss out on a planned trip to see the kiddo. Which really just blows. 

I was already trying to challenge myself to be more present, but miserable and sick tend to take the best intentions away. And when I’m mired down in it for too long, I forget fledging lessons I’ve been learning. Like presence. And experiences. And that focus. But I think through the snot-filled haze, I’ve figured out something related to the presence thoughts that will help me. Maybe?

When I’m sick for too long, I get in my head. I’m not as active (duh), and I guess it does something to my brain to deal with me just–being me–without much of anything I can do about it. Which, as much as it can be painful, it can be a useful, thoughtful moment. I think I’m like 98% of the rest of folks who are just numb to all the things. So much so, that sometimes I think that I have ended up in a spot where time when I’m not working or sleeping is just hours I fill to pass that time. To make them be over. To get through. And when i boil it down to that, geez, no wonder that my brain and heart and body feel like hot garbage. That’s a life worth living, right?

I’ve been “purpose” driven my whole life. Get good grades so you can go to college. Get a good job so you can do what you’re supposed to (i.e., 2 car garage house with family, don’t make a fuss). When I was religious, do the never-ending checklists so I’m not gatekept out of heaven. When I was a single mom, raise the kiddo – give her what I didn’t have and/or what she needs/wants and spend inordinate amounts of time figuring out where those things meet 🙂 Now that she’s in college, I’m not religious, I’m not partnered. I’m not “required” to do anything, ever, really. 

There’s a thing in knitting that surfaces from time to time where people talk about whether they are process knitters or product knitters. The first – process – meaning they are in it for the experience of making the thing or even just doing the making. THe second – product – means that they knit so that they can have the thing and the finishing of the object is the focus. I didn’t really understand the process folks I think until this week. I was so focused on making the sweater, the blanket, the hat etc. With a bit of acknowledgement that yeah, the process happens, and I like it or tolerate some of it (I’m looking at you–weaving in ends), so that I can have the satisfaction that comes with having the final, finished thing. And it occurred to me this morning after working on a very complicated, many-cabled blanket I started a few years back last night that I pick up and put down for months at a time, that I always see picking it back up as a chore. I’m always disappointed in how not as far along on it as I always convince myself I was when I put it down. But when I first pick it back up, I enjoy the amazement of doing the first 6 or so row repeats because making cables with yarn is just gratifying. It’s think-ery 🙂 And it’s something I can see quickly is right or wrong. And it’s something that has that burst of satisfaction of *I* did that. Me. 

Image of close up knitted cables in a sheepswool off-white

And it occurred to me this morning that I might work on it more regularly if I always keep that focus. That I get to work on cables, which I think is fun and satisfying. That if I genuinely focused on the process, that maybe I’d get to a point that one day when I finish it, I’ll be a little sad that it’s over because I let myself just enjoy the process for its own sake so damned much. And that got me thinking about being purpose-driven in the other areas of my life. And how, right now especially, that sort of sucks. I don’t particularly enjoy my job – but then I rarely have at any job I’ve had. I don’t particularly have friends and things to do in my new town on the regular enough to see work as something that facilitates me “living” outside of work. And the purpose-driven approach I’ve taken so far to finding my niche here and making friends is really only giving me anxiety about how it seems like I’m not accomplishing it – or at a rate that would be “successful”. See my last post for that.

And reading all of that, damn, no wonder I’m sick. All that stress and anxiety and judgment I put on myself everyday. I should like my job. I should make friends faster. I should belong more quickly. I should have a life worth living. I mean. What does any of that even mean? And who decides it? 

When I think of my most content, or even happy moments, over 2022, it’s honestly just moments of either peace in a moment or enjoyment in a moment. It’s a long walk on the beach when the tide is low and I can walk the sandbar to the island. It’s dancing with my kid at a concert in that moment to that song. It’s taking a walk with my best friend in her little village and chattering like we’ve done for 30 years and knowing that I’m in this moment with her. It’s chatting with the couple who run the bakery when I go in Tuesday mornings for a loaf of bread. It’s noticing the trees on the highway to town when I leave my little island town. It’s singing with my best friend in my car to awesome music for the 2 days we took to drive across the country. It’s getting back to my house after visiting a new town near me or going to an activity I haven’t done yet and feeling satisfied I tried something new. It’s acknowledging my wonder at the way the light plays in the fog and how damp my hair is getting as I walking home from the town’s theater.

Image of bright orange sunset over the sand with obscuring clouds and mist

So why isn’t that all worth celebrating and “enough”? It’s 100% my mindset. It’s not enough if I have to fulfill a purpose, now, as soon as possible, quickly – when do i have it? It is enough if I train my brain to stop measuring by purpose and instead stop measuring at all. Be in the moment – what is there to enjoy? Everyday, in the life I’m privileged to make for myself, enjoyment can be there if I’m looking for it. Instead of repotting a bunch of plants trying to figure out which one has the gnats and treat it like a grim war, why not enjoy that I’m outside, I’m making a mess, I’m smelling new dirt on my fingers, I’m in the sunshine that I can feel on my skin, I’m touching another living thing and giving it a better chance to grow?

Evem today – on the 8th day of being sick, I’ve noticed how green the leaves are on a plant I moved that now gets better sunlight in my dining room. I’m enjoying how bright tht side of the house is on this Autumn day. I’m listening to some favorite, relaxing, instrumental music. I’m really enjoying how much lighter my brain is feeling to organize these thoughts and get them distributed through my fingers and typing them. Maybe it’s a simple as saying my purpose is to enjoy life. And that enjoying life isn’t some social media post with big adventure and lots of people or excitement or whatever. Maybe for me, it’s just about finding enjoyment in what I am doing every day. I’m going to experiment with this for awhile. See if that generates more contentment in my body. See if maybe I feel less stressed, anxious and depressed. See if maybe I get sick less. See if maybe I wake up and feel more wonder about while I’ll experience that day – so that I’m more cognizant of my experiences – even the littlest ones.

Image of thin white curtain over 2/3 of a window, at the top you see trees with yellow, green and orange leaves

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