Is This Work Or Play?

Hello and welcome to my first regular post on a Saturday afternoon.

I committed to a few additional things this week, without first thinking them through. It's never good when you make commitments on the spur of the moment.

But in a way, you could say that I put on my big girl pants this week. I bought a domain for this blog, even though I didn't intend to. All I wanted was an unique email address, from which I can send my email newsletter. Because I learnt that if I send emails from my free gmail account, they would end up in their spam folder. Bummer.

So I got a really cool email address now. I wrote the copy for the landing page of my newsletter, which was fun too. I wrote it once, chuck it, rewrote it again. I personalised it so you can experience... me. It's weird in a very endearing way. 

The idea with creating a newsletter was to strap myself to an electric chair each week, so I can practise writing on a regular basis, no matter what is going on in my life. Obviously it's also to connect to the people who are interested in my work and what I have to say. I feel that with this blog, I am not really writing for an audience. I am mostly writing for me. So the newsletter is gonna be my practice for writing for you.

But this is where it started to get really stressful, real quick. 

I designed a banner for my YouTube channel that says 'New Video Every Monday'. Which is okay, because I have been creating videos for six weeks now and found that goal pretty doable. But in the same heartbeat, probably clouded by my lack of rest, I designed two other banners that said, 'New Post Every Saturday' and 'New Letter Every Sunday'. 

Boom. My fate is now sealed.

I woke up the next day and thought to myself, 'what the frick have I done?'

I started stressing about how I am going to meet all these deadlines, every week, for the rest of my life. Writing did not seem fun anymore. Making videos became just a tedious checkbox to be ticked. Nobody is signed up to my newsletter just yet, so that disaster is only impending. 

One day passed. Then two. Then the holy fax came in, bearing the insight that I needed in order to breathe again. It is this:

No amount of thinking about my videos, blog posts or newsletter, will make those things happen. In order for any of them to be created, I have to do the work. Don't think, just do.

When I was stressing over what my family was going to eat, that did not feed them. They still went hungry. I had to get up and buy the ingredients from the supermarket. I had to chop them up, cook them and plate them, before anyone got fed. Same principle.

This is where my meditation practice is so subtly important. Because it creates the conditions necessary for me to notice when I am thinking compulsively about my projects. Meditation increases my chances in which I let go of that thinking and to return to whatever it is I am doing in that present moment.

A few other clarifying insights that I had that day include:

What “New Post Every Saturday” is not: It is not a prison. It is not my jail cell where I have to serve my life sentence.

What it is: a friendly challenge. A practice. An encouragement for me to write more. To express myself more.

What it is not: an artificial way of life.

What it is: a natural extension of my life.

In a YouTube video by Einzelgänger, titled 'TAOISM | The Art of Not Trying', at the 3:06 mark, the screen shows us the definition of the word, 'try'. It follows with the narrator saying, “I think most of us are familiar with the idea that we should simply ‘act’ and not ‘try’”. To be in the ‘flow-state’.

“In a flow-state, one becomes the act, like a dancer who becomes the dance, or the poet who becomes the poem.”
Einzelgänger. "TAOISM | The Art of Not Trying." YouTube, uploaded by Einzelgänger, 30 Apr. 2020.  (3:11-3:19)

I definitely live for the moments where I become the poem.

I notice that none of the information on the internet about the philosophy of Wu Wei mention this piece of information that I am about to share. Maybe because those folks creating content about it are from the Western world and can't read Chinese. 

If I may add my two cents to the concept of Wu Wei / 无为, these Chinese characters literally mean “without” and “why”. Without reason. To act without thinking about what the act will bring you. Not trying to achieve something. 

In short, be present with the act. So present that you can feel that you have become the act.

As we go about our week next week, may we all avoid building fancy prisons for ourselves. May we be right here, creating, dreaming, making. 

Wishing you all the presence and gentleness in the world. -V

The banner that I designed, which I have since taken down. My commitment to publish every Saturday stands firm.


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