Dancing into the Future

I don’t know what comes next.

I mean, I really have no idea what I’m going to do. There will be things that I’ve started (raising kids, building the greenhouse, making the beer) that need finishing. (And by “finishing,” I mean, “continued commitment over a period of days-to-months-to-years-to-TheRestOfMyLife without which all previous effort is wasted”)  But when people ask me, “What do you do?”

I just don’t know.

I don’t believe that I can slap on a bunch of identities and pretend that somehow I’ve answered the question, although that is the convenient (and accepted) way of doing things. “Tell me which boxes you fit in, and then I’ll know what to talk to you about.” I tried that. It sucked.

Yet I’ve spent the last several months trying to answer this question, because I am assured that without a valid answer, I will never Make Anything Of Myself. That is to say, I may continue to be somebody’s wife and mother, but nobody will ever pay me for any of the things I already know how to do if I can’t package them up into a nice neat package. With a job title. Or a snappy statement of problem and solution. (I help people who something something… by doing something something… and then their lives are spectacular and they become millionaires! Of course, if I knew how to do that, I would have done it by now. Because sure, money won’t buy happiness… but it would buy me a trip to the Caribbean, and that might be fun. Or solar panels, and that would be cool!) And (They say) if I can’t answer this question, nobody will ever pay me to do anything more interesting than move objects around and occasionally hand them to other people ever again. No pressure.

What I do: I Think. A Lot. I slide from one worldview to another the way that most people change their clothes. I insist that this is a good thing. I refuse, steadfastly, to take a stand without adequate evidence. Sometimes I believe in god, sometimes I believe in gods, and occasionally I even believe in G*d. (But not very often.) And sometimes I don’t. I have moments of complete nihilism, although they are becoming fewer and farther between, being replaced with the ground of a firm agnosticism and meditation practice.  Sometimes I am absolutely convinced that I’ve got it figured out, and that I’ve got something that is worth teaching… which is, I think, how to be comfortable in your life even when you aren’t sure of anything. See how that’s a hard thing to pin down? Slippery, that. Dancing your way through The World As it Is. Even when you don’t know how that world is.

This is the essence of Practice – to hear the music and let it move you. To find your core strength so that you can dance with abandon. To bring yourself into balance again, and again, and again, whether your house is tidy or not, whether your clothes reflect your inner self or not, whether you perceive your body to be what everybody else (the mythic They) wants it to be… or not. Whether you have managed to meet even one of the targets on this month’s women’s magazines, or business magazines, or any of the other ways our society finds to remind you, “Oh, yeah. You suck!” To find joy in embodied consciousness, even when you are waking up with existential angst at 3 in the morning. Perfection in imperfection. Spectacular mediocrity. How to have the best-damn-average life out there and revel in it!

There have been times in my life when I Knew. I always turned out to be wrong. Now, I don’t know… but I have a vague feeling that I might be right for a change.

14 responses to “Dancing into the Future”

  1. Somewhere in this blog site – http://www.missminimalist.com/ – is a story about a conversation among a bunch of up and coming types where one guy is asked “What do you do?” and he answers “Not much”. Turns out he worked part time with people with disabilities. They were dumbfounded by his answer.

    Who was it (Marcel Duchamp maybe?) who would say he was a “respirateur”? You could always say you’re an artist, or a writer. I do think dilettante works well and I’ve used that for years whenever I’m asked on a form or website for my occupation.

    I think feeling sure of things, feeling that you Know, is treacherous. It sucks all the curiosity and discovery out of life and will dry up all your muchness. Stick with the not knowing.

    • I have! And now I’m learning Sanskrit. Or at least learning the Sanskrit alphabet. I get a rush at the start of things like this, when I find out things like, “Hey! The vowels look different depending on where they are in the word! How cool is THAT!?!”

      It’s purely for the joy of it.

      I’m totally having Dilettante business cards made up.

  2. I’m curious — do you ever have the comment from your kids, “Mom, you don’t do anything. You don’t have a job,” when they are comparing you to the dad or their friends’ parents or even the grandparents. Kids sure like to fit everything into a neatly put-together jigsaw puzzle. What do you say in response? I find myself getting frustrated that apparently I haven’t managed to teach them that jobs that pay $$$ are not the only kind of valuable work/doing.

  3. “What do you do?”
    “Everything! It’s a very long process.”
    “Ha ha, seriously, what do you do?”
    “Be AWESOME!!!” (delivered while doing ‘Most Muscular’ pose)

    I have never had anyone persist past this point…

      • Would you mind if I stole it too? There’s always enough awesomeness to go around.
        Or you could just move to France, where no one ever seems to ask that question, but that seems extreme.

  4. Life’s a lot like flying a plane — thinking about it will help lead you to the path (of being a pilot), but only sitting behind the controls will get you anywhere. Always set thought into motion, right or wrong, you’ll find out with follow-through alone. “Dreamer, you’re nothing but a dreamer, but can you put your hands in your head, oh no!” the Supertramp song goes. You worry a lot about what other people think, under the guise of not worrying about it. Such as justifying earning money with the “money can’t buy happiness” bit, you don’t want your friends to think you have an interest in money, “that would be superficial”, despite your obvious depth we can all see. When a millionaire says it, it means a different thing, of course. You may find upon searching that you have a guilt complex about succeeding, and so your efforts are continually self-sabotaged. You don’t want to live with the guilt of winning at things, when losers abound in our environs. Success (at things one could even potentially guilt you with the superficial label) would be difficult to cope with, and perhaps this requires some introspection and turn-around. You could quickly prove everyone wrong, and I’m sure you would too. Success (at superficial things), breeds more success, and soon you’re out of control. You’ll find out who your true friends are when they don’t guilt you about it. The others, leave em the fuck behind.

  5. “What do you do?”
    “Whatever the voices tell me – it’s easier that way.”

    That’s been my standard response for years – because for most of my life whatever it is I’m doing at the moment hasn’t been the case for very long. It’s a pleasant, pithy response, and allows the conversation to smoothly move on to other topics – unless someone is actually quite interested, which does (on occasion) happen.

    But seriously – you’re raising kids, running a small farm, building a greenhouse, striving to live with minimal environmental impact on the world, and learning. Every day. What more could be asked for?

    Living up to the expectations of your loved ones – close friends and family, and especially yourself – is hard enough. If you invoke the mythic They, with Their amorphous, infinite demands, you’ll drive yourself mad.

    You are contributing immensely to this world – through your family, friends, and (yes) this blog.

    Never stop learning, never stop striving, never stop giving back. And let the rest take care of itself.