I have a friend who is the epitome of peace. Though she is probably eccentric by anyone’s definition of the word, she stands among the children that always seem to surround her, as a beacon of calm and compassion. I have truly never met anyone like her.
The other day I arrived at school and she was sitting in her car at the gates. I plunged towards her and started waffling on, as I am so very prone to do, and she nodded and smiled and answered me when I asked her questions, but all the time her eyes stayed firmly on something on her lap. When I asked her if she would be joining me on the playground, she said she would be with me in a while and lifted up a well-loved sketchbook on which she had created a swirling, complex pattern of paisley, flowers and lines.
I was astonished. Here was a woman with a quiet, lovely vice. Something that absorbed her, engrossed her and no doubt contributed to the air of meditative calm that pervades her. I was astonished because there she was doing something so outside of my expectations of her. Something that she did for no other reason than that she enjoyed it. I was astonished because there isn’t anything, not a single thing in this world that engrosses me to the same degree. Nothing I do that doesn’t have something to do with life at home or here at Brocante. Nothing I do just for me. Just for the pure pleasure of it.
Mine is a feathery, rigid mind. A steel cabinet of fuzzy edges: all tasks and all pleasure blended and designed to move my life forward, nothing existing (beyond my daily mediation practice), that brings me sheer peace. Or joy.
It got me thinking. I started asking my lovely friends whether they too had hobbies. Noticing their references to past-times and hobbies. Lisa tap-dances! She takes part in shows and repartee’s and I didn’t know! Kath plays iPad games every evening. My other Lisa knits. My neighbor knits too! My other neighbour helps the homeless in the darkest hours of the night. Clare climbs walls. Lyn does cross-stitch. My Mum does crosswords. Jane draws… they are all at it! Living lives of authenticity and not worrying about failing. Or looking silly. Or not being good enough. Quietly dedicating themselves to their tasks and not feeling the urge to tell the world and his Mother that they are trying this or learning to do that…
This then is the third dimension after work and home isn’t it? And darn it nobody told me it was necessary! It doesn’t exist because it helps our relationships thrive or our mind expand, the third dimension exists because it takes us outside of ourselves, and moves our soul beyond all those tasks that are all too often thinly disguised obligation.
I didn’t know. I don’t know how I didn’t know, but I didn’t. Though I have long indulged my love of reading I do it not for the love of it alone, but for what it can teach me about life and a beautiful turn of phrase. I do it not to switch off but to switch my mind on. There is no downtime in this life of mine. No step-heel, shuffle reminding me that I have legs that want to dance or fine-liner scrawling something beautiful for beauty’s sake alone. No truly authentic dedication to anything beyond that which will put food on the table.
Sometimes I think that the whole world went to a finishing school that I lost my invitation to. That other women know secrets that have completely evaded me, or that despite my relentless pursuit of authenticity, at the grand old age of forty-one, I still don’t know who I am.
Oh gosh: perhaps I never will?