An unsettling revelation born from the dust settling more and more with each passing week (the “dust” here a mild reference to the massive upheavals caused by opening a mind and body wellness studio): I’m not exactly sure how much of my previous life I want back.
The notion is unsettling because for the last three months, my one, fervent wish was for life to go back to normal. But after having been estranged from formerly “normal” conditions for a significant amount of time, enough distance has been gained for me to pose the question: do I really want my old life back because it’s the life I truly want, or, do I want it back simply because it’s what’s comfortable and fits my notion of an ideal life?
(What is this supposedly ideal life? Very simply: a life crammed to the brim. With what? With, er, anything. As long as it’s crammed to the brim. In my [former] case, this included teaching two to three different subjects at university, finishing a masters degree, learning two foreign languages, maintaining a daily ashtanga yoga practice, writing daily, traveling extensively, maintaining a home and doing volunteer work regularly. If any of the above disappeared, I’d simply replace it with something else. One of the things that dismayed me so much when I opened the studio was the necessity of dropping most of the aforementioned activities.)
But now, with more and more personal time being regained from a combination of accumulated experience, momentum and just b—-y hard work, there’s room to start picking up from where I left off. The question, as I’ve already mentioned, is: do I really want all of it back?
Because the thing that I’ve learned (and have had to learn repeatedly) these last three months is the beauty of simplicity. Yes, I resisted it much of the time, resented the dwindling of the horizon of my concerns to a single point, reminisced about the good old days when I did a million and one things and actually did them well. So yes, I did not intentionally choose to simplify my life—I simply chose a path that brought me to a head-on collision with enforced simplicity.
What surprised me (surprises me still), is that it’s…okay. So much of my self-esteem was built on a diversified portfolio of pursuits—the larger the diversity, the more valuable the pool of assets. For the last three months, for better or for worse, everything’s been about the studio. What I didn’t expect was the gradual realization that I don’t really want the old variegated busyness back. After having lived without facets of my identity I’d previously thought inseparable from who I am, the question that presents itself now is: how do I really want to live my life?
The most unsettling thing of all is that I think I actually know the answer.