Writing has been next to impossible in the past couple of weeks. I want to. Ideas are swirling around in my head, stringing into sentences, structuring into paragraphs. But I start to type and it all just seems like egotistical bullshit- like masturbating for an audience.
The act of writing feels incomplete, as if it puts concrete labels on ideas that can not be categorized. It is inefficient. Were I to write every thing I was feeling, I think I would never leave the desk. I have fifteen emotions while sipping a cup of coffee.
I am trying to learn to rethink happiness, and what things will make me happy. Will enjoying a second beer make me happy? Or will I use it as ammunition later, chiding myself for my lack of self control? What am I looking for in that moment? Should I make peace with my body and love it exactly as it is? Or should I be honest about how my lifestyle choices are reflected in my appearance?Blah blah blah
I am hoping to learn to think of healthy choices as a source of happiness, a gift to myself, not something that deprives me of joy. It can be challenging. I am also trying to focus on a fuller range of happiness- how choices I make with my body effect my mind, how things I do today can make me happier for a longer term.
One of the meditations I have been practicing asks you to feel what it is to be “you” in the moment. Do my muscles feel tense? Do I have pain? Am I uncomfortable? Do I have trouble staying in the moment? As I become more practiced in noticing the subtleties of my body, I can search for what my physical form is trying to tell my mental self. Just by adjusting my posture and sitting up straight, I feel a change to my state of presence- one of my books says something like “slouch and your soul slouches also.”
I doodle, all the time. I’ve learned it is a thing- zentangle or zendoodle. A meditative state reached through the act of doodling. Zen-tangle because each little individual spot of the complete doodle is called a tangle. I prefer zendoodle- no need to heighten its importance with a fancy name. It’s doodling.
I recall an interview with an artist where he said something about how as kids, we draw all the time until someone tells us we are not doing it right. We want our trees to look like trees. We fail to see that perhaps its just our own style of drawing.
I’ve given in to my style. Doodling brings me clarity. I don’t have to spell out my emotions in words, they just burst through on the page through ink. Some details resound- I prefer curves over sharp lines. I like most of my lines to meet- I need to follow a line to its end. When all else fails, I draw circles- they remind me of bubbles or eggs, and for some reason, I like that. If an edge is sloppy, I try to clean it up. I don’t stop if I make a “mistake.” I incorporate it. I only stop when the doodle feels done.
This post probably reads cryptic and insane, and it shouldn’t. As silly as it sounds, I am finding such peace with this doodling, I can’t help but share it. Most days I have a notebook open on the counter, so as I have spare minutes throughout the day, I spend them drawing. I would normally use that time on Facebook or checking email- let me tell you, the doodling is a lot more satisfying.
One day, a friend stopped by and saw the notebook. She said something like “I could never do that.” That’s the beauty of it- she absolutely could. Look at any of my drawings. They are not complex- they are repetitions of simple shapes. They are instinctual- I don’t set out to draw a specific thing. I start out with a few tentative wispy lines, and as they feel right, I darken them. When I like something, when it feels good to do it or the shape looks pleasing, I do it again. Simple, simple simple.
It takes me a few days to do a drawing, and when I’m done, I scribble a little note as to what I was thinking about when I made it. It is interesting to see how whatever I am feeling is reflected in the drawing, each one telling a story without words. The lines, the color choices, the shapes- I’m sure they look like variations on a theme to someone else, but to me, they tell distinct stories, often with more coherence than words.
Yesterday, I picked up drawing journals for my sons. We drew together for an hour or so. I like that they will grow up seeing me drawing- that they know they don’t have to give up drawing just because something doesn’t look right.
Give it a shot. Pick up a pen and find some zen- I prefer Sharpies with ultra fine tips. Trust me, you can doodle your way to a brighter day- my kids would say “that is some hippie dippie baloney.” Hippies seems happier than everyone else, so I’ll take it.
Be kind, give love.