I’m a collector of phrases. I live with some phrases for decades. I tape them to my desk and on my window sill. I read them as necessary.
But I need new phrases all the time. Right now I have a new one on my bulletin board above my desk, written in my scrawl. It reads: “Everything is workable.”
I think it’s from Corita Kent. I found her through creativity guru Austin Kleon (his new book launches this week). Next to my board, I have Kent’s list of rules for the art department she ran at Immaculate Heart College. I’ve highlighted two of her rules:
Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.
Be happy. Whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighted than you think.
Ah, yes. The trust one? Years ago, when I was taking classes and they weren’t feeding me, I decided to just try to trust myself, to write on my own. To try to hear my voice in a world full of voices. I’ve slowly begun to trust my voice. That if I am quiet, the geniuses that live in my neighborhood will come visit me during my writing time. That if I make a place for myself and for those geniuses, my writing will keep happening. (I also took my first class in a long time recently. It fed me. Whew.)
The second one: happiness. It’s not as elusive as we think. It’s just everywhere. Granted: I have to quiet a lot of the world’s noise to hear it. This feels ridiculous. I should steep myself in the horrible world news so I can help to change the world. But this doesn’t work so well for me. The more I listen to the media feeds, the more hopeless I feel. The fact is that when I shut down more of my news sources, I still hear the news. I still find ways to make change. My range for change is pretty small. My ability to listen to the news and be happy: oy. So I focus on how to find lightness. It’s right here: with my family, by noticing the trees and the blooming flowers, by taking a nap at 6:15 on a Friday night.
When I woke up from that 6:15 nap on Friday night, I thought maybe I’ve been tired for a really long time. Maybe if I let my body rest more, it would be easier to be lighter. Maybe I’m just approaching 50, but I think I am onto something. I’m always pushing myself, thinking I need to do more to be more worthy of happiness, to be more successful. But in doing less and resting more, I think more lightness is mine. There’s nothing better than being pretty darn quiet all weekend long with my family. Reading, taking naps, taking walks, trying out paint colors in the dining room.
I’m also in love with the letter l. So as a collector of phrases, I’m going to put the word “lightness” in my pocket and see what happens next. Maybe it will make everything more workable.