squint and gaze



If I had a home of my own, it would be many things. Hopefully: close to family and friends, cozy and welcoming, full of eclectic curiosities but safely out of Hoarders territory, beautifully rough luxe in style, with lots of bright natural light flooding in. I daydream about having a home, or even a semi-permanent address, but that's not in the cards right now. For the next year or so, we'll be jumping between sublets and our parents' houses as we navigate this in-between time.

When I move past the wistfulness for even a few moments, I recognize that I am in fact very grateful and excited to not be tied down to one place. For one thing, the fixed costs are fewer and lower. And of course, freedom is a byproduct of non-commitment. But freedom has a weight of its own, in the sense that you know its value and rarity and feel deeply obliged not to squander it.

It's been raining all week, and I've been loving every minute of the hazy gloominess. When the rumble of thunder awoke me earlier this week, I climbed out of bed with glee. Brian and I sat downstairs listening to the storm move across the lake, and watched a blinding pink flash of lighting hit the water right in front of us.

Later, when I stood by the water's edge and squinted to see how far I could see into the distance, I realized that I'm constantly doing this. One of my former supervisors once told me that my biggest weakness in project management was my tendency to try to anticipate everything. She was right on that note, and also when she advised me that it's better to have a solid plan, and then address things as they arise. I think it's part of my general inclination to see my life as a project to be managed.

When I was an art student, we were instructed to squint periodically to see how our work was taking shape, to alter our gaze enough to lose sight of the details and get a grasp of the general form and balance. Or, we could step back and gaze upon our work from a distance.

If I'm being real, I do think of life as a project, and as a piece of art. I believe a good life is something that we create through hard work, thoughtfulness, a reverence for beauty and love when they appear before us, and constant reflection and examination. Zoom in and see how the fine details are coming along; zoom out and evaluate it as a whole. Yes, I micromanage myself. Doesn't everyone?

No, I'm learning more and more, they don't. Lots of people take risks and leaps and take it as it comes, and play it by ear and believe that "home is where you park it" every day. I salute those who are braver, and I want to learn from them.

Can you will yourself into changing your perspective, your habits? If so, I will push myself to gaze out over the lake and simply be intrigued by the mist-shrouded horizon. I will look upon it with curiosity and wonder and respect most of all. I will respect what I don't yet see, don't yet know. In moments where the sky brightens and I can see more clearly into the distance, I will appreciate those moments of clarity. If I can turn a squint into a gaze, maybe I can transfer this approach to my life at large?

I'll give it a shot, but until then, I will try my best to simply enjoy the view from here and now.

Are you like me? Do you try to micromanage your own life? Are you a recovering project management addict? I'd love to learn how you guys handle the unknown, and hear any advice you may have!

Update: my friend Maya shared a video of Oprah's visit to Montreal today. In it, she said the following:

"The ultimate question we ask ourselves is 'why are we here?' and you get to answer that with every action, thought and feeling because our life is our art, and every day we get to paint on the canvas that is our life. The lights and the shadows and erase some things and paint over some things until we continually evolve into who we are meant to me."

I thought that was pretty great.