My first of two theater camp gigs closed on Sunday, and now I have the entire month of July free before the second one begins. I really built this time up in my mind, imagining all the magical wondrous things I could do in four almost completely unscheduled weeks.
When they started (on Tuesday really, as Monday was J's birthday and full of things to do for that), I sat down with my commonplace book, intending to make a sort of July bucket list. Get all of the vague, exciting potential out at one time to look at and choose from.
I couldn't think of a single thing to put on it.
There were things I wanted to do abstractly. Yeah, I'd like to get my new embroidery piece started (Freddie Mercury is really hard to draw, y'all), and I TOTALLY need to get back down to a size 12, and yes, my house is a mess. But of none of the things that would get me from where I am now to where I think I want to be (with completed art projects, fitting into my fall work wardrobe, and leading what that lady in the KonMari book called a "more feminine life" thanks to my serene, clean home) were things that I was actually excited about doing.
I tried to attach my sense of excitement and desire to the end result (I want to clean my closet because I want to have the kind of life where I ... have a clean closet. Or something.), but that wasn't working for me. I had a strong suspicion that even if I achieved these goals, my overall level of happiness would not increase. I'd pass the four weeks in a vague panic, knowing that I was "wasting" them, and when they were over, everything would be exactly the same.
I am easily moved by the idea that happiness is around the next corner of self-improvement, waiting for me as soon as things 'settle down.' I am perpetually waiting for life's chaos to ease off a little bit and then extending that wait time with every mini-crisis. I get that the mini-crises are what life actually is, but I still hold on to the idea that there is a better version ahead if I could just stop having surgeries and car repairs and huge piles of grading for, like, five seconds.
I don't want to be happy in the future, though. I want to be happy NOW. I've been thinking about this for a while. I'd recently read Tim Urban's blog post that discussed the error in "brushing off his mundane Wednesday and focusing entirely on the big picture, when in fact the mundane Wednesday is the experience of (your) entire life," and I wanted to stop brushing off my mundane Wednesdays. I REALLY wanted to avoid brushing off the month I'd been looking forward to since well before Christmas of last year or wasting it trying to invest in some imaginary 'real life' in the future where I'd finally gotten my shit together and was allowed to be happy.
I put my un-started list away and went to the pool. While swimming, I thought about what I really wanted to do. What would make me happy in the moment. I composed the following list when I got home.
I would really like to be:
I wasn't completely satisfied, mostly because I wasn't kidding above when I said that my house was a mess. I really wanted to address that problem, but I struggled to put it present-moment terms. After probably more thought than the question warranted, I added
Caring for and about my things and enjoying them fully.
For the most part, I've managed to spend the bulk of my time over the last three days doing only things on the list. (Including cleaning out my fridge and closet, thank you very much!) The dust of my life has in no way settled (Hello expensive car repair and waiting weeks for the part to come in!), but I feel rested and fairly happy. Which you'd think would be easy enough in a month where you have no obligations, but apparently it took work for me.