Wisdom for this Year’s February Thaw

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When I walked into school this morning, a flying-v of geese headed north overhead, presumably returning early from the winter.  “February Thaw,” as one of my friends recently told me this strange stretch of weather is called, is confusing to me.  Everything since November has felt like a reason to worry, this unseasonably warm weather included.  And yet I can’t help but feel that we have desperately needed a little relief from the elements recently.  I haven’t been able to craft a blog post in my head, but I did want to write for the sake of writing.  I miss it, and I’ve become so busy this month that my writing brain keeps getting pushed to the back of the shelf.

So first I just want to send out a general cheer of gratitude to everyone in my community, both online and in real life.  I’ve watched actor friends set their art aside (or redirect its purpose) to stand up for human rights or protect the parts of the earth they are inspired to fight for.  I will look back on this time as both terrifying and humbling.  I always knew the people I am graced to know in some way or another are genuine, hardworking people.  But these past few months have left me speechless.  The women’s bathroom at my job is covered in motivational quotes and instructions on how and where to march and protest.  My Facebook feed is packed with persistent protesters, people suddenly running for local office, and those simply standing up day after day, even though so often they’re told it isn’t worth standing.  And so, I tip my hat to you this morning.

I flipped through my journal last night and found a sentence from late October that said something like, “I have a terrible feeling about something to come–that it will be a bitter cold winter.”  I wouldn’t go back to that time if you paid me–a time when I had no idea what was really around the next corner.  I also didn’t have the current fire lit inside me that this shift in the world’s energy has caused.  Suddenly, all the “projects I hoped to do someday” were bumped up to, “I need to do this now.  Like, seriously…now.”

And so tonight, I am training with the organization I raised money for last fall.  And on Monday I head to a rehearsal as a playwright (for the first time!). And this weekend I continue to raise money for a short film I am producing.  And this Summer, I will leave the full-time job that has held me stable for over two years to go back to the theatre world. And this July I will return to Spain to hike the Camino de Santiago again.  These were not actually spontaneous decisions.  I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I want these things and so I will do them.”  What really happened is that I woke up and realized I have the preparation and training to accomplish these things, but hadn’t done any of them out of fear.

And so, perhaps, if you’re still feeling the need for a life or general energy shift since the world rearranged last fall, consider this:  all those platitudes about “starting today!”  and “no time like the present!” are true, but leave out a little information.  Nothing bothers me more than articles that say, “I just quit my job out of the blue and moved to Fiji to sell kumquats!”  No you didn’t.  You had the money in place and a way to rearrange your responsibilities.

The platitudes should really say, “You’re really good at something specific that can lead to doing something you love.”  And if the little steps leading up to whatever you want to do are not in place, then figuring out what needs to happen first is just as crucial, if not more.  The most important thing is that you can start the march toward that event today, even if it’s as small as making a list of the tiny events that would lead up to that thing that brings you joy or sends joy to others (which are usually one and the same).  On that note however, I have also learned in the past few months that you can learn a lot about how to do something as you’re doing it–especially if you just don’t have the time to wait any longer.

I have finally found a regular practice in my meditation, and this combined with training walks for the Camino, helps make this year of necessary protest feel a little less suffocating.  Whether you feel confident in your current life direction or not, remember to try and find one simple thing to bring you back down to earth amidst the constantly erratic news flowing through your phone and Facebook feed.  Even if it’s just the warmth from this brief February thaw, take a moment to stand on earth and remember that we may (with some luck and a lot of hard work) look back on this time of change with deep respect and pride.  We didn’t stay silent, we didn’t remain stagnant, and we supported one another.  Now go enjoy the sun.

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