Last year I attended a weekend workshop in which we were asked to identifying our “Basic Assumption” about life. The idea was that we all experience life through a particular lens and that knowing what kind of glasses we are wearing might be helpful.
The workshop was facilitated by Maria Nemeth, a razor smart women with a wonderfully high forehead and charming willingness to crack jokes at her own expense. She handed us a list of a dozen or more “Basic Assumptions” and we spent the weekend trying to figure out which one we were.
I struggled. I hedged. After two days of narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-exploration, I was as confused as ever. None of the options seemed quite right. Finally, at the end of the weekend, I took my turn in the hot seat. I stood in front of thirty people, palms sweaty, heart pounding, sure I would be made the fool. But, with Maria’s steady arm wrapped around my shoulders, I discovered my Basic Assumption:
THIS ISN’T IT.
As soon as I said those words I knew it was true. It explained everything—or at least everything important. Maria had said we’d recognize our Basic Assumption by it’s stink. She said, “You’re going to hate it.” I did. I do. The truth landed in my gut and sat there, festering.
THIS ISN”T IT.
It means I’m never satisfied. Always on the lookout, always seeking. It’s the ontological version of “The Grass is Always Greener”. Nothing is ever good enough. Perpetual dissatisfaction would be my faithful companion, my cross to bear. Fuck.
Why am I writing about this?
I’m thinking about this today because my book—the project I have been pouring my heart into for a year and a half—has fallen off a cliff. I ostensibly stopped writing to heel a painful case of Lateral Epicondylitis (the fancy term for Tennis Elbow) brought on by too much time on the laptop. Without hours in front of the computer, great swathes of free time appeared.
Nature abhors a vacuum so, I filled it—happily. I launched this blog which led to the idea of embracing web development as a part of my design business which led to a fascination with WordPress which led to searching out customizable themes which led to….
Let me tell you, web design is one rabbit hole I could slip down forever. For two weeks I have found myself knee deep in cascading style sheets and how to extract 10 pixels of padding from between widgets which is somehow much more compelling than my airy-fairy book.
The good news is I now know I’m in the THIS ISN’T IT weeds—and being aware is everything.
So, here I sit on this grey Sunday morning, trying to go gentle on myself. No need to string myself up for being who I am, right? Things change. It’s raining today but tomorrow the sun may shine. Today, I fancy myself a web designer; tomorrow I may be a writer again.
We are all more than one thing, traversing multiple landscapes at the same time. Come to think of it, that’s what my book—the one I’m not writing—is all about. Life feels like THIS ISN’T IT because I’m focusing on my activities…my doing…my production. But a well-lived life is a dance between Form and Spirit—between the material and transcendent worlds.
So, I’m embracing my This Isn’t It-ness because, well, it isn’t.