before completion

today i am packing again, it is almost time to move to the next location. before i packed my i ching book i did a reading and i got ‘before completion’, the reading that says the process of moving from disorder to order is not yet complete. the image is given of a fox crossing the ice, carefully, almost there, but if his tail touches the water it is all over. i love this read for where i feel myself to be right now.

the other day i was walking a precarious path, at least for me and my arthritic knees, and it was very clear to me that i could do this, but only if i slowed down, slowed down in spite of the people trying to pass me, slowed down in spite of wanting to go fast. i caught myself in a little pep talk under my breath: “trust this step. now just trust this one. now this one.”

i am in a lifelong process of becoming, and i get overwhelmed and ahead of myself often, wanting to already be solid, to already know the thing i just realized i should learn. there are several areas of my life now where i have dedicated more than a decade to the learning of a craft, and so i grasp both theoretically and experientially that becoming masterful at anything takes time. and the further challenge is always there – as opposed to facilitation, english, somatics, there is no path or set of practices guaranteed to lead to the mastery of being me.

being human, yes there is more guidance. meditate, do unto others, cultivate humility and curiosity, love often and be honest.

but being adrienne is more mysterious. am i answering a calling or running from one? is my hypothesis on how i am meant to serve my time and species going to yield a satisfying result to me, and/or to the gods or aliens (not mutually exclusive) who may assess my life?

i don’t know, and more interesting to me every day is the big unyielding wall of truth that i can’t know. and i can feel peace in the not knowing.

but i am distinctly ‘before completion’ here. i am on sabbatical, right? so it should be a zenfest orgy of unleashed becoming and creation of next self. and it is, i can’t deny that so much is flowing – i am writing in eight different ways right now, and my inner octopus is delighted.

but the things that undo me in life also undo me here.

i want to be alone so intensely that even at the end of the world i bristle to run into someone…but then i hunger for contact, to know i haven’t been forgotten, that i am still wanted.

i want to feel abundance of time and life, but i keep looking at exactly how many days i have left and AM I SPENDING THEM CORRECTLY??

i love sitting with tea and writing and then reading and writing some more and spend hours that way…but i also spend hours playing candy crush and look up to find it’s dark outside.

i know i am valuable beyond what i can produce…but i still feel like i need to have tangible things to show at the end of this, lol…evidence that i am rested and liberated and stuff.

it is humbling to feel so mysterious to myself still, and to see how clearly my particular patterns persist in every circumstance. there is no where i have traveled where i have been able to escape myself.

i can offer that the things that are working best for me in this space before completion, the practices making me feel most alive and at ease, are the same things i have always done, things that work anywhere. i love the travel, but it is helpful to me to remember (and leave this seed here to return to later when this sabbatical is in my past and maybe i forget what i know) that the journey i am truly taking is internal, is about giving myself time and permission to be and become.

i listened to a lovely, slow conversation between neil gaiman and tim ferris where gaiman talks about the process of writing a novel as ‘discovering the day that works for you, and trying to repeat that day as many times as possible’. this resonated with me in it’s simplicity, and somehow struck me as different from rigor, or even routine. there is a way that i can move through a day that opens up in me a flow, life force, creation energy. there is a way i can say yes to my true yearnings that then allows the subsequent production to not feel like work, but play, delight, dream-come-true.

for me it’s:

starting the day attending to my body with yoga, stretches, crunches (i’m up to 75!). i do 3-5 sun salutations, warrior, triangle, chair, tree, reverse pigeon, twists, happy baby, some floor stretches, crunches and a brief sit. whole thing takes 10-20 minutes depending on the variations my body wants once i am on the mat. it’s such a not intimidating commitment, and it changes everything about the day to come.

learning something as a way to awaken my mind (i am on a fifty day streak of learning Spanish on duolingo and while it’s still appalling what happens when i try to speak to another human, i can feel the language connecting in my brain. i can imagine a new story replacing my ‘i can’t learn languages’ narrative…something like ‘i know a little bit of a lot of languages and benefit from immersion’). again, this can be a five minute thing, though some days i go a half hour or more, enjoying the dings of affirmation.

reading other people’s work. fiction i swallow whole, reading even as i walk from bed to bathroom. nonfiction i crawl through diligently, a chapter at a time with lots of permission for breaks. but i read other people every day, and work hard to not to compare myself to their greatness, but just take it all in as many ways of expression.

i also take in work in other ways – i am listening to john coltrane, thelonius monk, moses sumney and justin bieber this week, feeding something softly masculine in my creative flow.

not eating until i am actually hungry around 2pm, and then only eating exactly what i want. this has also been a game changer – listening to my body is making my relationship to food functional, sweet, adult. it feels mature to check in, say what do you want right now?, and to give it without shame or punishment or disorder. i eat much less these days, and enjoy it much more, feel much more satisfied.

being in touch with my honey, my friends, my family in small touches. being in relationships without obligation is a lifelong learning and i find real delight in the feeling of being alone and clearly wanting a particular person’s contact – my mother’s voice, lover’s laugh, nibbling’s story from the bus.

sweating. i have been walking, hiking, swimming and dancing. i had forgotten how enlivening it is to have sweat on my lip and brow, to feel my lungs demand more air. i like sweating in nature, sweating where i can see birds swooping or little furry things dash about, or fish go by. it makes it feel not like working out, but being alive, using energy and flesh to be alive.

centering and recentering – meditation, somatic centering, journaling, tarot, moon rituals…the methods i use to center myself are multitudinous and mercurial, but every day i do some combo of centering behaviors. and when i knock my perfect smoothie off the counter, or stumble on the rocky path, or flub mi nombre, i recenter from the rapid negative voices that want to make me shrink. i recenter and breathe and keep living.

and, of course, i would be remiss not to mention the healing work that i am doing here. many days contain sudden fits of grief, rage, questions, pain that has been in a holding pattern. i don’t think of healing as completion necessarily, but as clearing out of the way, the body, that which keeps me from completion, fullness, wholeness, integrity. sabbatical, for me, is having enough time to fall apart and come back together differently, then awkwardly take a next step from and towards myself.

if i do these things (which have no particular order or obligation, but each occur to me now that i am in the flow of practicing them), at some point in the afternoon a sentence will come and i will know which project it is for, or maybe have to start a new project to hold it. and then i follow the words, the characters or ideas, writing until my hands hurt (i mostly write by hand, or by thumb into my phone) or my stomach growls or my bladder insists or, in some other way, my body reminds me i am not simply an idea unfolding in space.

and it isn’t rigid – some mornings i wake up full of essay, or dialogue. when i am not on sabbatical, i often wake up in the 4-6am hours and write, my mind taking the time i haven’t otherwise carved out. i like knowing this about myself, that my writer self takes its own space if i don’t create it. it feels like one of the truest, most consistent things about me, that i will write every day…if i am not writing, i know something is wrong.

i think part of why i am ‘before completion’ is because i am still learning to trust the next step on the journey to being a writer more than anything else. it isn’t for lack of affirmation, or ideas, or passion.

it’s just that i enjoy writing so deeply.

i was raised like most humans since the beginning of time, that you do things because they need to be done, and work is mostly an uphill push, or about ambition, and paying bills, and having something to complain about in bed later, and to escape later. i am still trying to learn all the way through me that even though i love writing, i can let it be the center of my life. that it doesn’t need to be the delightful sidebar to a serious relevant life. i am still trying to learn to feel from within that my writing is of service, and enough. not because others say so, but because i know so.

i just finished the finale of The Good Place, which was so excellent, and so i also feel aware that i will be ‘before completion’ in some way as long as i am alive, and that makes my shoulders drop back and down.

though it sometimes feels like time is a rushing river tossing me around, i am aware that just in this past year i lost, or at least started losing, the impulse to push against it. i am not trying to stay younger than my 41 years, and i am not trying to get ahead of myself to the future, to the end. i am grief-striken, meaning i am aware that it is finite. striving and regression are two ways of ending. i want to study the art of reveling, living, loving.

i am before completion, reveling in what is undone – it’s so me, all this unfinished business. i am whole in my incompleteness, writing parts of myself into existence every day. and i will do this as long as i get the gift of breath. to be unfinished is to be human!