Life’s felt a little cramped lately, if you know what I mean. Not frantically busy, not chaotic, not stuffed and spilling out. Just tight. Like pants that subtly squeeze your middle all day. Like piles of unused clutter slowly gravitating their way into every corner. I’ve got my schedule worked out to a T. I know exactly when each thing should happen and how it make this life keep ticking along. Not once seeing that that these meticulously organized regiments I keep so diligently are silently squeezing me as I plough ahead. I’ve got a plan of what has to happen right now to move me forward toward my next goal, and then a list of what to do when I get there. And the whole time I’m getting the air pressed out of my chest but it’s happening so slowly I don’t even feel it.
There are big trees outside my door. In spring they become dotted with a million tiny buds, touching every inch of every branch with hope and expectation. In summer they get so full with leaves and green and life that I can barely see my neighbors house. In autumn they turn yellow and orange and fiery red and paint a masterpiece against the brilliant blue sky. But now they are empty. Stripped clean of every sign of life. At night they scrape against my roof, shuddering under the relentless wind. In the morning I wake and see them standing in stillness. I see through each branch now, I see the bleak sky, I see the roofs of houses, I see the peaks of mountains, I see the gray clouds heavy with not-yet snow. There is all this space, all this emptiness, all this room for nothing.
November brings emptiness to the earth and my soul is craving a little of it for myself.
I’m hungry for spaciousness. For room to stretch my arms out and fill my chest with air. To mute the noise and dim the lights and simply be.
I’m giving up sugar and junk food for a little while. Not because it is wrong but because I want there to be space in my stomach for a little while, to remember how it feels to be hungry, to be ok with being empty now and then.
I’m emptying my drawers and taking a bag of clothes to the thrift store. Not because they are worn or ill-fitting but because I’m tired of them taking up storage space and decision space. I want to open my closet and see space instead of making a pile of things that I tried and aren’t working today. I’d rather eliminate the wardrobe analyzing, pull on my sweater from yesterday and have more room in my morning routine.
I’m deleting apps off my phone as often as possible. I’m turning off notifications and allowing myself to put a post up without checking the likes on a minutely basis. I’m looking at other people’s squared off lives less so I can see and savor the full scope of my own. I’m using the space that gives me to sit down on the floor and belly laugh with a toddler or to take up my husband’s hand and actually hear what he’s saying.
I’m watching less TV, shrinking my stack of books to be read, and savoring the content I do take in, rather than devouring it without taking a breath.
I’m piling up whatever I can take out of my house and letting blank space stay blank without needing to fill in all the white.
I’m putting less content out, taking less content in, and relishing the invigorating feeling of having room to think and ponder and breathe deep and sit and stare into space.
I’m taking walks as often as possible, meandering sometimes instead of always running. I’m taking time to look up, to see the barren trees above my head and the barren sky above them. I’m not trying to achieve as much as I am to receive, to push forward as much as to quietly dwell where I am.
It won’t always be this empty. The clouds will eventually get so heavy they’ll have to let down all their weight. We’ll wake to snow laden branches and dazzling drifts outside our front door. Light will return. Color will burst its way back, it always does. And all this is good; beautiful and rich and vibrant and good. But for now we’re here, in the gray, in the stillness, in the empty. And here is also good.
I’m rooting down in the present during the month of November, and I have a list of things to pay attention to and give thanks for to help me do so. CLICK HERE if you’d like the list sent directly to your inbox.