I am tired. My elbow has a weird rash I only get when my belly is not feeling quite right. I fall asleep shortly after 9:00 p.m., and wake up gasping at around 3:00 a.m. nearly every night, some half-forgotten horror clawing at me, making its way closer even though I’m trying to escape at full speed. I can’t get back to sleep.
I am, in other words, a writer. A “sensitive type,” some would call me.
That’s not some self-important “writing is pain” nonsense. I am happy, I am functional, I have friends, my kids are well-adjusted, I am up on all my bills. I am not sinking into a tumbler of whiskey every night. It’s just simply self-knowledge. I’m strung kind of tight. I meditate, I work out, I eat (pretty right). I stress anyway. I could watch the birds more, chant my mantras more, but the fundamental fact remains that this is who I am. There is always some part of me sprinting away from impending disaster.
I have spent a life trying to find strategies to make this road more satisfying, less frightening. Inspired by an article a friend sent me, about “what introverts need,” I wondered: what do I need? It felt valuable to share it, so here it is. This is not a recipe for living for everyone… this is just mine (and a partial list at that). So here goes:
- Less inputs. I recently set up my email filters to funnel off emails from anyone not in my address book. Emails often feel overwhelming to me, and I feel like I have to respond as soon as they come in. If I don’t see them, I don’t feel that, so I limit what I see.
- More “just because” reading. I often feel there are things I “should” read, because it’s The Latest Thing, or because it’s good for my craft. But sometimes I just want to read fluff. You’d be surprised how much of a hard time I give myself about this.
- Little beautiful things. Whether it’s a flower picked from my garden, a new arrangement of things on my coffee table, or a new wallpaper on my desktop, I yearn for beauty. It can still me and make me feel like the world is a place of grace and loveliness.
- The moon. It will be a full moon on Friday night (early Saturday morning, to be precise). I will spend a little time gazing at it, weather permitting. It stills me, and makes me happy, to know that I am in tune with the rhythms of the moon. Ten minutes of gazing up at the moon calms me as much as an hour of meditation.
- Time in quiet, inspiring places. There is a beautiful garden, about 15 minutes north of my house, with a gorgeous gazebo, a walled-off rose garden, and some of the loveliest trees I know. Often I “sneak out” at lunch time and visit this beautiful place. I remember a thing a wealthy woman once said to me, about how our society overestimates the value of ownership, and how spending time in a place, particularly one that’s not very crowded, can give us that same satisfaction of ownership without all the work and expense. When I go to this park, I am often the only person there, and I imagine for a short while that it is all mine, because, for that moment, it is. It brightens my whole day.
That is it, for now, in no particular order, a few things that make my life just a bit happier. What are yours?