Krishna Das is a well know kirtan practitioner, which is a fancy Hindu way of saying that he chants the names of God. His music is beautiful and soothing and widely used in yoga classes. When he was interviewed by “The Sun Magazine” last year, they asked him why he chants. His reply?
“I had no choice. I knew it was the only thing that could save my ass.”
This post isn’t about religion or salvation. That is for each person to factor into her life in her own way. It’s about finding the thing that will keep you afloat in life. For some people, it’s singing, for others, it’s dancing or cooking beautiful meals or running every day or practicing yoga.
Often we don’t give the “thing” enough credence or reverence. We feel like it’s silly or that we have too much happening in our lives to make sufficient space for it. Other things get in the way, non-ass saving things. Like watching TV or shopping or being in a relationship.
Writing has always been the “thing” that saves me. I moved around every year or so as a child and the only way I was able to process that enormous amount of change was to write about it. I wrote to understand my circumstances and to say them aloud to someone, somewhere. I’ve never stopped writing, but as I began to take it more seriously, majoring in the subject and then hanging my hopes and dreams upon its mantle, it became more challenging, less life-affirming and more demanding. I took it for granted and put it off, viewing it as a chore and not a deeply worthwhile investment in my well-being. I forgot how many times it had saved my ass.
Now I realize just how precious it is. I understand what it is. It’s not a talent or a skill or even a job. Those are peripheral side effects of doing something often enough to get good at it. What it is, first and foremost, is a life raft. Writing keeps me afloat when the water recedes and the bottom drops out. It holds me still and allows me to see past my emotions to the bigger truth that surrounds me.
No one else can save you. But you know that already.
And yet, time and again, I see people throwing all of their energy into another person’s happiness, hoping that it will boomerang back at them, that a lover’s smile will reflect only the good and keep the bad at bay. It never works that way. People leave. Or you grow out of them. Or, more often than not, they don’t fulfill you in the way you hoped they would. Because they can’t.
Someone left a comment on “What Did You Give Up, To Get What You Got” saying this:”I used to dream of being an author and had a pretty good shot at it–two published authors were both encouraging me and willing to teach. However, when I was in the middle of an entrenching chapter, one of my children would blurt out “can I please have some juice”. Ugh. I lost my train of thought again! So, I had to make a decision. Were my kids interrupting my potential writing career, or was my writing career interrupting my children’s need for attention from Mom? I shelved the novels (3 of them) and promised myself to never get them down again until my children were older. I figure 18 years is only a 1/4 of my life and I can write the rest of it.”
That comment stuck with me. I’ve been turning it over in my mind, trying to formulate a response. This post is my response. Place the oxygen mask on yourself first, then assist others.
Don’t let the rituals that bring you peace and meaning and deep satisfaction in life fall by the wayside. There’s a season for everything. But there are also those things that get us through the unpredictable and trying times, things that are “ours” and no one else’s.
Identify what sustains you and cultivate it in your life. Make room for it. Don’t allow the every day distractions to swallow it up. Because they will if you let them. Everything will always seem more urgent. But nothing, really, is more important than that thing, the one that has the potential to save your ass.