“But [our existence] is best understood as the analogy of music."
– Alan Watts
There's been a lot of change in my life lately, and to be completely honest, I'm more insecure then ever. I've been so busy acting busy, I hadn't given myself time to reflect. To check up on myself, to evaluate the real meaning of being a wife, to understand the meaning of ''making roots'' again. I needed "slowing down" to be presented in a way that forced me to sit down long enough to think deep about my life, who I want to be, and why I'm so daggum afraid all the time.
And when it came to me one of my morning commutes this, I knew I needed to share it.
September 20, 2018:
Probably like most people, philosophy isn't a thing that's my mind very often. I hadn't even thought about it since I took a class (because I had to) in college.
But thanks to Elvis Duran & the FM Morning Show (105.7FM in Spokane), I was introduced to the man behind the speech, the most unlikely of teachers:
Meet Alan Watts. He was a British philosopher, author and brilliant mind until his death in the 1970s. He wrote and recorded countless speeches and essays (all of which are on the internet now) and he was acclaimed by the LA Times as the man "beautifully writing the un-writable". So... a pretty cool dude.
He did however walked away from the Episcopal Church and pursued western thought in 1950. So an unlikely teacher, he is. Also, if you choose to listen to his works, do so with a grain salt.
Though Watts and I have radically different interpretations of the Bible, his perspective on life and living it well shook me to the core.
(Good reminder: don't let what someone believes, or doesn't believe, get in the way of the lesson you are meant to learn.)
"Music, as an art form, is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano. Why? Music is different from, say, travel. When you are travelling, you are trying to get somewhere. In music though, one doesn't make the end of the composition. The end of the composition. If that were so, the best composers would be the ones whose compositions was were over the fastest, and there would be composers who would only write finales. . ."
Since Michael & I's engagement in March, my life was filled with all-things-wedding, just like every other bride-to-be. But the type of stress I experienced was definitely different than I anticipated. The actual wedding planning was easy-- we had almost gotten married a million times before, so there were certain aspects of the wedding I already had taken care of. My mom is also the Organization Queen Bee, so she had several major things completed within the first weekend. We were, as you say, kicking butt.
But as summer set in, it became apparent that we weren’t just planning a wedding, we were orchestrating an international, multi-cultural event, and as fun as that was, we are also trying to find new jobs, secure an apartment, figure out immigration policies and plan a cross-country move.
I was, quite literally, living for the next thing to fall into place.
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who gets like all-in-a-tizzy in the middle of wedding planning madness. I don't even think that it's inherently bad, or even entirely avoidable. But the thing is, I was living for the "next destination" before the planning started, and I know that I'm still like this now.
Completing tasks is a safety net for me. If I am so busy that I don't have time to deal with one hurt-filled thing, maybe it'll just disappear because there just isn't space for it anymore.
Busyness is a defense mechanism--- distract, deflect, stay safe.
It's one of the easiest, worst things we can do to ourselves.
Full disclosure, I had a hard time in the weeks following the wedding. As extraordinary as our wedding day was, the weeks leading up to, and following, the ceremony were so much more than a whirlwind—they were a hurricane. But just like the eye of a storm, I wasn't phased in the middle of it. I was in "to-do list mode" (as my hubby so affectionately calls it) and then afterwards, I entered into a weird (and unexpected) crisis/self-preservation mode.
Let me explain: Below are our overseas friends and family who came to be apart of our wedding. This picture always either gives me tears or goosebumps. Why? Goosebumps because there isn't a greater honor than being one of two reasons all these people traveled so far. Tears because, oh man, these goodbyes hurt.
Our first full day as husband and wife was filled with hard goodbyes to friends and it only got harder when we said "see you sometime" to family a few days later.
And it was here I guess, I decided that the hard stuff outweighed the good stuff, and I chose worry over trust, panic over peace. I felt like the bliss had ended and the whole world was crashing down on us (dramatic, I know). This surprising, anxious attitude kept me from recognizing the beauty of our extraordinary new life and to be honest, it's already my biggest regret.
"Life is a journey" is probably the most misguided catch-phrase of all time, and it's how I have thought about life for the past decade, but more specifically, about life up until the wedding.
Here are some real-life thoughts I shared with Michael as we were walking through this weird process together:
It's easy to think about that one day, to plan and plan and plan. And it turns out just like you planned, absolutely perfect. And, at the end of the day, you're finally married to this crazy awesome human, so really, who even cares!
But then, when it is all over, that "big day" is suddenly in the past. There's nothing for you to directly plan (or at least, nothing that requires so much attention as a wedding) and it's your job to be a good spouse but like, that does that even mean?
Things don't actually feel that different (except for a few obvious things), but you know that it is different because there's a pretty piece of paper on your fridge and rings on your hands, so like, wait, how do we do this? There's this new normal life you're living, but your role shifted from planning for the future to living in it.
And holy crap, this person is so freaking wonderful but I feel like I'm not good enough, and I'm still confused...what just happened.
I got so caught up in a day that lasted just as long as all of the others, that when the sunset and rose to the next morning, I was suddenly faced life after my destination, I didn't know what to do. My reaction was to create another "destination" that would somehow procure a feeling of fulfillment once reached. I ignored the absolute gift lying beside to me, and chose to worry about some unknown crisis, and wait until later to be happy.
Alan Watt's turned this "life is a journey" bull on its head. Even to a man who doesn't see God, life is still valuable-- valuable enough to be lived well -- at every stage. And valuable enough that every piece of it is important, forever changed without the presence of a single note.
This speaks of two things:
1. Valuing the awkward, "in-between" stages of growing up
2. Cherishing each moment as it comes, regardless of what's supposed to happen after it ends
The small moments matter so much, found in the muck and mire of the ordinary and in between whatever's next and whatever happened yesterday.
It won't be perfect. Life is actually kind of a disaster. But one of the most important thing for us to do in this life, is to actually live it. I'm learning that now. To say hello even though you know a goodbye is coming, to take in all the memories even though you know the moment won't last, to embrace change, love deep and live with intention.
God specifically designed us as creatures of the present, where all of our senses can engage different aspects of the world in front of us, in one simultaneous act of existing. The fact that we have millions of tiny pockets of time to breathe that in, everyday, and positively affect ourselves, each other and even the Kingdom of Heaven, is an indescribable gift.
Treating life like music re-centers our focus, adds specific intention to the daily high and lows, affirms the importance of every element of our story and reminds us of the purpose of silence.
I'm not good at this yet, but I'm so glad I turned on the radio that day. This way, I can get better.
Thanks for reading!