What have we done?
We sold the TV.
Just before Christmas we took a couple of pictures, posted an ad and it was gone. Poof! It seems we have officially left ‘normal’ behind. This is not completely foreign territory – I did once shave my head in my early twenties, but it has been a long, long time since I have ventured out into unknown territory.
By simply choosing to let go of the TV – and with it the commercialism, the bright flashing lights, the drive to consume – we have chosen to live in a way that is different from almost everyone else. That feels huge. And good.
In the space that our TV once occupied there now seems to be a vacuum pulling in new thoughts and new ideas. I have been flooded with creative energy. It has been exhilarating to have my camera back in my hands, rusty though I may be, and my cranes fill me with a different sort of satisfaction. One that is subtle and deep. One of a long held desire finally being fulfilled. I’m certain all of this is a direct result of unplugging.
At first I wasn’t sure what to do with myself (neither did my children – look for more about my children and visual media soon). If I am honest, I was probably the biggest consumer of TV in our household. I would get the kids in bed, plop down and zone out. For hours. It took me a while, but now I’m reading more, and soaking in hot baths more. I’m talking more with my husband, and with my kids. I’m relaxing into the freedom and quiet of a TV-free environment.
I have to admit that despite these encouraging developments that feel oh so right, I have been on edge, the inside of my head feeling almost frantic. It’s as if deep down I believe that this newfound freedom will last for only a few fleeting moments. I have been moving quickly so that nothing can escape my grasp or my attention. I feel like I’m scrambling to accomplish all that I can before anyone notices what I’m doing. Before the all too familiar fear of failure seeps in.
Fortunately, I know the lesson I am meant to learn this time around – this lesson has been a constant source of challenge and growth in my life – I need to slow down. Be patient. Settle in for the long journey ahead.
Since starting on this quest to simplify and improve the quality of our family life, I have unearthed from inside myself a new certainty about the direction in which I want my life to move. What were once only vague imaginings of a distant future are slowly forming into a very clear, very immediate picture (there will be a complete post dedicated to this topic in the near future). I am anxious to see my newly clarified visions put into practice, but I know I cannot go to sleep tonight in my current life and wake up with my dreams fully realized. It will be through the consistent accumulation of small habits and thoughtfully made choices that progress is truly made.
I need to ease into this new life carefully and with intention so that the changes we make remain sustainable. These small lasting changes will determine the direction of our future. I must not force this movement.
My children have only ever really known one way of living and they need time and space to sort out this new way of fitting into the world. Their eyes need time to open. Their minds need time to imagine. Their bodies need time to rest.
Breath, then move.
That was once something that my husband and I often said to each other, almost as a mantra, in our youthful rock climbing days. The largest sheer rock faces are climbed one breath and one movement at a time. A carefully placed toe, a gentle shifting of balance, a breath. The metaphor is obvious. Stepping outside of societal norms (or even just common expectations) and getting comfortable in that unknown space is a huge wall to climb. We are far, far from the summit.
Simply articulating my desire for change and acknowledging all those dark unsettling feelings was the beginning of this journey. Sensing more clearly what I want my life to look like and feel like is a remarkable feat for me. I should count my blessings.
I have relationships to heal and nurture. I have plans to make. I want to move forward with clarity of purpose and not waste precious time flailing about wildly. I must calm my anxious mind.
So, my intention for this winter is to use it as a period of gestation. A time to gather my desires close to my heart and let my dreams mature. A time to organize. A time to muster up the courage to live my life without concern for other’s expectations of me. A time to move through the self-inflicted intimidation I feel when I see how other families have already accomplished so much. A time to regain a sense of wonder and joy.
I’m hopeful and excited and scared to death. Just the way I want – no, need – to be.
I refuse to panic.
A quick note…
I hope that you are enjoying this new space! I intend to post almost daily, taking Fridays and Saturdays off to simply be present with my family. (Camera in hand, of course.) Tomorrow we are headed off to celebrate Eric’s 39th birthday with a family hike in Shenandoah National Park. There is much celebrating to be done!