I’m coming to the end of my week of sitting in solitude amongst the trees, and to my surprise what came forward this trip was not a deep sink into the unknown, the vast spaciousness, the structure-less depths of Being. Yeah, yeah, that was there. It always is.
But what reeeeally came forward is this:
I’ve never been on that friendly of terms with structure or schedules. (I’m wearing yoga pants with an elastic waist right now, I’ll have you know, so structure is not always my go-to.) And as far as schedules go, I’ve either resisted them, or slavishly adhered to them.
Wait. I’ve always sort of resisted them.
OK, resist in a strong word, so again, let’s just say I’ve not always been amicable with a schedule. After a lifetime of not being into schedules, by now I’m habituated to a life without much of a structured time table — or the skillset to follow a self imposed schedule day in and day out.
Structure was always imposed on me by someone else. Like school: be on the school bus by 7:45AM, be at your desk by 8:30AM, lunch is at 12:45PM and on and on and on.
I didn’t like school. Everyone seemed asleep, dull, operating by some robotic impulse to say and do and fit in and be what’s expected and go along. But I was no rebel. Hell no, I followed the pack.
College, which was a four-year acting conservatory, had me strictly adhering to the schedule, but I didn’t mind a bit because I was immersed in acting! Voice! Shakespeare! Movement! Dialects and accents and text analysis and speech class and history of theatre class where I learned abut the Greeks and Grotwoski, Moliere and Marlowe. My schedule was full.
But I was a tightly wound, anxious ball of yearning as I breathed and tried to relax and find my “center” in acting class. And I clung to the school schedule like a prayer, believing it would unlock a post-college life of nothing but creativity all day and all night.
And much to my dismay, after graduating, I went right into being “put on the schedule” at a restaurant. I asked people if they wanted to hear the daily specials, took their lunch orders, inputted it into a computer system, explained myself to confused cooks, let the food sit under the heat lamps too long, raced to the tables, tried to get that question of “how is everything over here?” in by the third bite to avoid the evil eye from my restaurant manager, and gratefully clocked out at the end of my scheduled shift.
I wanted to be my own boss!
So I learned massage — then energy healing, then meditation which I taught, and then years later I began spiritually mentoring people — and here I am.
And so for the most part, as an adult, my schedule has always been disastrously in my own hands. I have worked for myself most of my adult life, scheduling appointments with people when I could find a free spot on my calendar, my daily schedule varying wildly through the years.
So from one day to the next, I’d rely on some sort of calendar to tell me what to do, where to go, and who to be and for whom, because I couldn’t keep it straight without it.
At first, I used a paper pocket calendar called a Day Runner, with its velcro fastener and little bitty pen. Then Palm Pilots came out. I loved my Palm Pilot with that slim stylus and special shortcut language (remember that?), even if I didn’t follow a lot of its prompting to color within the lines and be on time, and begin activities at certain planned moments. Then smartphones came out and I learned to use my big oversized thumb. Blackberries, Androids, and the holy, beloved iPhone.
Blessed be the next iOS upgrade.
Sure, I would schedule with these technological thingys. But aside from work or shows, I ignored the timers going off telling me to get to yoga class, or to sit down and write, or to pay bills, or to call my mom. Yet things somehow got done.
On set, schedules are everything. “What’s my call time?”, I’d ask my agent, and breathe a sigh of relief when it was early, unlike most actors, who hated early call times. With an early call time, my day would be decided for me. And that break from creating or avoiding my own schedule was always welcomed, even if I would feel constrained by it in time.
But with film and TV, even though I’d arrive at 5:00AM, the schedule gets off track. A shot took too long? They can’t get the lighting right? There’s a script change? Hurry up and wait.
Theatre has been a more precise schedule: rehearsals for a play will take up huge amounts of time, with breaks planned according to Actors Equity rules, certain scenes scheduled to be run and worked through, call times of an hour before the show starts, and the super organized stage manager letting everyone know that it’s five minutes to curtain (even when there isn’t an actual hanging curtain). It’s a bit like clockwork. My day would revolve around rehearsals or shows, and I’d change my daily schedule to fit the theatre work.
But there was always an end point, a project finish date. Then it was back to my wayward days and nights!
Stand up comedy is a mixed bag. Comedy clubs start the show more or less on time, giving you “the light” when you have one minute to wrap it up and get off stage. But alternative, comedian-run shows in bars and restaurants and cafes around town are a large part of a comedian’s life, and they notoriously start late. “We’re waiting for the audience”, you’ll hear from the comic who runs the show. Sometimes, they’ll forget to give you the light, or if the audience is really with you, and the bar isn’t closing down any time soon, they give you extra time and “light” you later. It all has a loosey-goosey type of feel to it that I appreciate.
Comedy shows on tour start on time. I’ve done longer sets on tour in venues that are unusual, so I know there is wiggle room with when I end my set. But jokes have been timed down to the second. You know how long each joke is, how long a whole bit about a certain topic is. For instance, lately I have a bit that’s four minutes and 22 seconds long and it’s all about jicama. It goes best mid-set, after I’ve talked about other stuff and have gotten the audience on board — “she seems like a nice lady” — before I start going off about how jicama wastes everybody’s time with its flavorless shenanigans.
Honestly, I don’t like knowing how long my jokes are. I like to rant, to play, to explore, to interact, to go off track. That’s what I love most about creativity. Even though it seems your favorite comedian is just “making it up as they go” in their Netflix special, they really have it all timed out. Structure is king. They’ve created their jokes to perfectly fit into a long set that warms into things, then ramps up, and then closes they way they intend. And laughter is really sort of scheduled in. It’s great when people are laughing about every ten to fifteen seconds. If they aren’t, then get off the damn stage! Right? Right! UUUGGGHHH.
So much structure. I take breaks from it all. I have an on again/off again relationship with stand up comedy. More on that later. Maybe. Maybe not. Hey, I’ll do what I want!
(Maybe there really is a rebel here at heart.)
These days I love the free-float of a day where I can stare at the trees or daydream and write something silly or something deep, and then meditate, sit with my husband and pet our cat, see healing clients and mentees through Zoom, take a walk outside. Clearly I want the life of a semi-retiree in Florida.
Probably because I spent so much of my life in a constricted bundle. When I finally began unraveling, coming undone, loosening up, evening out, waking up and freeing open, I just wanted to fucking enjoy life. To not have anxiety after decades of it? Hell, let’s stare at the clouds! Isn’t life UHMAZING?! Freedom, freedom, joyous freedom.
And schedules and structures have sort of felt like the antithesis of freedom.
But even though some days I live like I’m on a pension and am ready to pack up a Winnebago, in a sense, my life is just beginning. It always is, in each moment, yes. And it’s always been underway, of course, since I took my first breath decades ago; my life has always been here, being lived, all of it unfolding in ways I liked or didn’t like, and unfolding perfectly nonetheless.
I mean my awakened contribution. My unique expressions of service this lifetime. We each have that. And it’s just beginning, really. This is palpably sensed, and it all feels right on track. As I’ve said before, I’m a late bloomer.
So. If I want to fulfill what is coming forward, and to share and give back in the most effective ways I can, a schedule and some damn structure will help. The rebel who has resisted schedules can fly and be free if there’s some sort of structure. A bird needs those exquisitely, divinely designed wings to help it take flight. Two of them, no less.
And why am I sharing this with you? Because I just devised a schedule for my day-to-day life, AND OH MY GOD I AM NOT SURE I CAN STICK TO IT. ARRRRGH.
But it’s fine. Everything’s fine. I’ll do my best. I’ll adjust. New habits will form. Such is the way of the human. We are designed to have our operating systems upgraded time and again.
It’s curious how things gel and start to take shape and become something, and when you look back, you can see it was coming into being all along. About a month ago, I felt called to put a scheduling calendar on my website, so that I no longer had to go back and forth with mentees and healing clients about what days and times are right. I just figure out what I want my schedule to be in advance (yes…I KNOW…I’m not one to schedule things in advance), and I put it on the calendar, and they grab an appointment while I sleep or eat cashews or write a blog like this.
I used to just haphazardly put clients and mentees in anywhere I could. Not any more! I’m freaking organized. Sort of.
And now I’ve come up with a writing schedule so I can finish my book: late morning, early afternoon. So after years of free floating for various unhealthy, and most recently, much more healthy reasons, there is an intuitive sense that a divine “doing” must be honored.
If the formless is to take shape, we must follow the call of form. This is the way of Saraswati, who gives speech to the ineffable, flow to the creative spark, and action to that which is the fuel of action. Though I’m no expert, I hear Saraswati is the goddess of storytelling, words, music, learning, and bringing form to the formless. I welcome her in!
It’s needed in order to harness the wild and creative energies, the sweet and intoxicating energies, the powerful and forceful energies, the energy-less non-energies of the transcendent Beyond. That which is structure-less needs a structure in order to manifest.
And a good way to avoid writing your book is to write about all that and post it as a blog, which is what I’m doing right now. Hiiiiii.
But honestly, this schedule will help. Maybe. OK, this schedule is a start.
Because there was so much I was doing that wasn’t feeling in line with my deepest nature and current experience of life; or the most profound callings, the truest impulses I carry. I yearned to get away. To do nothing for awhile. Allow clarity to arise.
So I did.
And to my surprise, I’ve been shown a better way to “do”. So let’s see how this goes. Saraswati, let’s do this.