I’ve been writing a lot of recipe posts lately. I don’t mind these periods of culinary creativity. When they come, I just roll with them. But, something’s been nagging at me. Something I’ve been wanting to write out but wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Maybe a coffee chat post, I thought. Maybe a Noe update, something about life and not about food. But I didn’t know where to start. The words seemed jammed up in my head. I couldn’t get them onto the page and I started to frustrate myself and the cycle of asking whether I really had anything of merit to say began to creep in. Flaws, imperfections, self doubting, they pile on top of one another, circle and swirl until they exhaust me and I’ve yet to do any actual writing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about flaws, cracks, weaknesses lately. The shadows that we hide in, trying to put on a brave face when we believe that we’re the only ones going through hard times. Noe battled a really nasty cold last week that had us mostly cuddled up on the couch or in bed. It tested my patience, my abilities as a mother. I lost my temper and then felt guilty for being frustrated by a sick, crabby kid. There was simply a lot of trying to get from one moment to the next, fitting in downtime and meals where I could, which is near impossible with a baby that’s constantly saying “hold you” which really means “hold me”.
Needless to say, by day five, it felt like the walls were starting to cave in on us. We had to get out, even if that meant we just walked the streets of Berkeley and people watched. As I watched people go about their days, hurry for the train, grab their coffee, commute, rush, look at their phones, I thought about what they were hiding, what I was hiding. The exhaustion, the pain, the memories that aren’t visible in the wrinkles, creases, the furrows and the bags under our eyes. What’s really there beneath the sunglasses and the ironic shirts, the messenger bags and the $25 mascara?
The other night Michael and I were watching Girls and I turned to him and said, “I wish I had even an ounce of the self confidence and realness that Hannah does.” Don’t get me wrong, I know that she’s a mess, I know she’s delusional and chaotic and lost and yet, she is so. damn. real. Clear in her mission, confident in her body, sure that despite it all, she’s moving in the right direction.
And that got me asking myself questions like why I’m not more like that? Can I be more confident and real? Despite my shadows, my flaws?
My sister and I have been talking a lot about the curated social life. How perfect everything you see on the internet is these days. The best picture of the bunch, edited and styled, possibly hinting lightly at a struggle we might be facing but in a cheery, almost dismissive way. Leaving out the deep-seated worries, the real messes like they’re not worth the time it takes to bring them up.
Maybe that’s why I like Hannah’s character so much. She isn’t afraid to say, “here is my real, here are the struggles, I’m showing up for my life anyway.” I wonder what it would be like if we were all more honest about that? Would we feel more connected, less swirly, less lost?
The people I love most in this world all have messes, they all struggle. They’re all complicated, bruised, questioning, amazing people. And yet, amid all this, our roots intersect, intertwine. They tangle and spread and burrow deeper into the soil, making me love them even more.
I don’t love them for their shiny photos or their seemingly put together appearances. I love them for their passions, for their hearts, for their honesty, their experiences.
I read recently that we are human beings, not human doings. I’ve thought a lot about this lately too. Sometimes life can feel like a lot of doing and not a lot of being.
“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste your food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive.” -Earnest Hemingway
Adulthood, parenthood, relationships with our partners, coworkers, ourselves, work, life: they have a way of creating lists to do, goals to achieve, improvements we can make.
Maybe we need less hiding behind the doing and more being.
On Monday, after this rather hard week/weekend filled with a sick baby and hard parenting, I dropped Noe off at school and came home to a pile of laundry and a dirty kitchen. As I began the doing once again, I stopped. I put on a song that I love. I turned it up so loud that I could feel the bass in my chest and I literally danced the shit out that song, by myself. I closed my eyes, jumped up and down, swung my arms over my head, I screamed the words at the top of my lungs and when it was over I fell into an exhausted pile on the floor, my heart beating wildly. And I thought, yes! This is BEING. Welcome back Lisa.
And so moving forward I vow to bring back a little of that being. Try harder to live from that place.
Shouldn’t we do more of what we love? No really, WHAT are we wasting our time doing? So I thought about that too, what do I love? What do I want to do more of? And here it is:
- Writing for myself, by hand, in an old journal.
- Listening to my favorite songs, cranking them up, singing along.
- Attempting to stop the self doubting swirl and embracing the flaws.
- Reading books that make me happy and putting down those that don’t. This article had a great insight on why we should stop reading without joy.
- Getting into nature and not just outside. Up into the trees, away from cars and concrete.
- Taking that trip we’ve been talking about for months.
- Reminding myself to put down the lists and be.