Just before the end of the past year, I decided to forgo my usual habit of cramming my annual planning into the most riotously busy time of the year. Hence, "December in January," where I spend the first month of the chronological new year planning my own, to begin in February.
Several weeks ago, I happened to see a post to Twitter from a sometime/longtime web acquaintance, Dave Seah:
(In case you're reading from a mobile device or something else that can't parse the screenshot of Dave's tweet, it reads: "This week, I will try to practice 'do not hurry. do not wait.'")
I had no idea what it meant. Okay, I had some small idea of what it meant. It was about not being rushed into things, but taking time to handle them in a sane and rational fashion. It was about procrastination, or the not-doing of it.
But further unpacked, it was about a lot of other things: the over-and-over-again nature of changing our most deeply ingrained habits. And having patience with oneself during the process. And needing both the accountability and support of one's fellow travelers to reach this mythical new land of Doing Things Differently.
I didn't take the time to unpack it in the moment, for which I'm now very grateful. The small, still voice inside me screamed, "DM him right now and say you're in." And so I did, not knowing what "in" was, nor even really knowing Dave that well. I'd known of and read and vaguely admired him for years, but hadn't thought to start following him on Twitter until Pam Slim stuck us in the same post about her current web obsessions. We communicated here and there via @-reply, but only sporadically, not enough to allow for friend traction.*
"In" did not reveal itself for another month or so, when, mulling over how I might familiarize myself Google Wave to prepare for an upcoming conference I'm speaking at, I thought that a two-person collaboration with a fellow nerd might teach me a thing or two. Dave was game, bless his heart, and we were off to the races.
We talked about Dave's tweet, and what it meant. (It meant mostly what I thought it had.) We talked about how we might use Wave, and how to use Wave (it's not especially intuitive). We talked about goals and blogging; we talked about things we were afraid of and things we were no longer as afraid of.
Basically, we talked, we're still talking, and let the agenda unfold as it needed to. And it turns out that while this is not an especially comfortable place for me to live in that it feels unnatural, it's an exceptionally comfortable place for me to live in that it feels roomy. Luxurious, even, so much space and freedom in which to play.
This, I now realize, is what I was after when I began decluttering in earnest last fall, or even when I began searching for the articulation of my purpose back in 2007: MORE ROOM. It has roots in my bloody epiphany of 2002, my out-of-body experience on a shitty Santa Monica stage years before that, my move(s) from one place to another (only to find myself repeatedly back in my own, miserable backyard), my childhood fits of inchoate longing. O, holy night, aren't we all looking for that one thing, or at least that one clearly-marked road to it, that is the fullest expression of our being?
Of course, MORE ROOM is not the ultimate thing I'm looking for. But it is the thing I've repeatedly denied myself, that I've skipped over and brushed aside because who has time for such foolishness, nor need of it when one is willing to work like an ox, to push like a mofo, to break like the wind? And MORE ROOM is the next thing I need to find my way back to the thing, or to the path that will take me there.**
MORE ROOM, then, will most likely be my theme for 2010. Not particularly sexy***, but wildly extravagant (for me), which is a kind of sexy (to me): as I said in the original December in January post, I'm taking off a minimum of three months to make more room for myself, which means a further erosion of savings. I prefer to look at it as an investment in my future, a self-directed Ph.D. program of sorts, complete with lots of writing and reading and late-night coffees off-campus to hash over the meaning of meaning. I have no dependents and a relatively small overhead, so I can afford to be especially luxurious with my time, but I suspect anyone can create some room for herself if she really wants it. There was a time when the only time I could grab for myself was a quarter-hour in the morning with my spiral notebook, and grab I did: on the closed lid of a toilet seat, before my husband awoke. We do what we must.
What must you do this year? What are you planning to give yourself, and in which direction will you walk?
Whether you're plotting out your own December in January or are the blissfully organized, fully-mapped-out mistress of time management I hope someday to be, I would love to hear about your themes and hopes and plans for these coming months...
*Interestingly enough, I've met up in person and developed nice friendships with both Jonathan Fields and Peter Shankman, the other two people in the post, as well as Pam herself. Quite a thing when done right, the Internet.
**I can hear someone, somewhere, arguing that MORE ROOM or the giving of it to myself IS the path; I hear you and appreciate it, but this is my cocksucking boulder and my motherfucking hill, and I get to name both the signposts and the obstacles.
***And who said everything had to be sexy, anyway? The Louvre isn't sexy, it's magnificent, as is the feeling one has walking through the Louvre, looking at all those objets that represent all that human thought and all those man-hours. I'll take magnificent or luxurious or even comfortable over sexy any day of the week. Sexy is good as a spice, but lousy as base nutrition.