Tag Archives: structure

N is for Nothing

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This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project (PBP). It’s the first one for the letter N (it’s actually the second N week already, but apparently I’m slow with the catching up I said I’d do).

I’m not quite sure how or why it happened, but after being almost obsessed with tarot and other aspects of spirituality for at least three quarters of a year (and possibly more), I suddenly don’t feel a pull towards any of these things anymore.

Maybe I’m just exhausted after the last three years that brought a lot of changes to my life that I didn’t choose (plus some that I did choose) and need to give myself a break. Maybe I just need to adjust to my new voluntarily jobless life a bit longer and be patient with myself. Maybe this is just another one of these phases where my attention turns elsewhere for a while, as it does with practically everything. Maybe there’s no reason to worry.

But I do worry. How serious can my spiritual inclinations be if I’m able to shut them off so completely all of a sudden? Isn’t this just laziness and a lack of discipline? After all, it’s not like I couldn’t do more. But apparently, I decide over and over again not to. I decide to watch one of my favorite TV series instead of reading tarot or writing on this blog. Even when I know I actually have stuff to read about. In fact, there are several aspects of my life that could bear some closer examination (after all, having the time to do that was the main reason for quitting my job). But I just don’t seem to have the energy to deal with any of that right now. So I do other things like help a friend renovate their room and exchange thoughts about racism, critical whiteness, queerness, and passing, and the desire to do things our own ways. Or I hear lectures at the university, or go to the first concert I’ve been to in years. I also hang out with people who seem to like my company, even if I’m not entirely sure why, and reconnect to some neglected parts of my life and get to know some nice people a little bit better.

As I do all these worthwhile things (yes, that includes re-watching old episodes of Glee), however, spirituality seems to have fallen by the wayside. There is a big stack of books I was looking forward to read with more focus than working 40 hours a week left me, but they remain slightly dusty and untouched. There are several blog post ideas ambling around in my head that I was looking forward to writing when I had the time and headspace to do so, but they remain (at best) scribbled notes on scraps of paper somewhere in a small heap over there in that ignored corner of my floor.

And I’m undecided what to think of this. A part of me just wants to reaffirm that this is just the way I work: bouts of obsession-like focus on some topic, followed by near-complete disinterest in the same topic a while later (with “a while” ranging anywhere from a few days to a few years). And after another while, a return to the topic, full of renewed interest and passion. Rinse and repeat. It works for me, so what if it’s not the accepted ideal of how these things are supposed to happen?

Another part of me, however, is very busy looking down on that kind of behavior as yet another expression of my utter laziness, my obvious inability to follow through with anything after things get difficult, and my complete lack of discipline at anything but getting up to pee every day (at some point). Not that this is an accurate assessment, as a calm and grown-up part of my mind would like to note. Devouring heaps and heaps of information and opinions on a topic over a period of several weeks (and often months or even years), pondering them in my conversations with other people or here on my blog (or elsewhere in writing), and often finding new connections that make sense to me can hardly be considered lazy. Nor can my stubbornness at bringing up a topic that I consider neglected in a broader discourse until I feel it has been at least recognized, even if it doesn’t make me especially popular with people who’d rather like things to stay the way they were before I spoke up, seriously be called “being a quitter.” And while I may not exhibit a lot of the kind of discipline that always does the same things at the same time the same way, I’m still able to do many things quite regularly, and not just when they are great fun.

Maybe I need to re-read Star Foster’s article on “Slacker Paganism” a friend recently pointed out to me? And then apply the wisdom therein to my own practice, of course. Because I’m secretly pretty sure this is really just one of these things where the hardest part is getting started. And perhaps there is some fundamental value for me in learning how to do things less-than-perfectly without beating myself up for it. If only the practice of that was so easy to arrive at as the theory! (Any tips for how to deal with one’s perfectionism when and where it’s not helpful?)

And I’m pretty sure that my own ideal state (or rather, flow) of things lies somewhere between total randomness and doing things only when I feel a strong, positive urge to do them, and total discipline and doing the exact same thing at the exact same time over and over again like clockwork, no matter what. Perhaps I could use a new mental image to think about regularity, too. Something like “happens easily and organically and is influenced by surroundings, weather, degree of nourishment, etc. and includes dormant times every now and then” instead of this robotic machine-thing that completely ignores that any kind of structure (for me) needs to be flexible or it will break down as soon as life interferes. Seems like the challenge (once again) is to find my own personal middle ground, even if it’s likely to be anywhere but in the exact middle of all this. Perhaps I need to think about ways to queer* the idea of discipline without losing its good and useful aspects…

* Not necessarily in the sense of spoiling it, and even less in the sense of making it homosexual, but rather in the sense of twisting and turning the general idea of “discipline,” prodding and stretching it until it starts to make sense again.

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