Like everything else, I thought it would look a certain way.
I graduated from my Master’s program over a year ago. After graduation, I thought I’d have floods of energy, opportunity, more money, and a feeling of contributing to the well being of others, but it’s been different.
I’ve struggled for energy every single day. The opportunities that I have had have been unpaid or too unrelated, and I spend most of my time contributing to my own well being in order to sustain my sanity versus pouring into the souls of others.
People have asked (at least) every single week for a year now how my businesses are coming and how life post-grad has been. For a year I’ve been responding with something like, “I’ve just really been trying to find my rhythm this week.” Every week there’s been something: vacation, travel for family events, travel for friends, local events for the Church, my own community, my husband, the organizations for which I work, or things like getting a puppy and buying a condo and renovating the entire thing...
Every Monday I would look back at the former week’s progress and have feelings of depression and despair. The question I kept asking myself, “What have I done?” failed me endlessly.
And it would continue… People would ask, “How are your businesses?” or “How’s life after graduation?” or “What are you working on?” And my answer would remain… “I’m just really trying to find my rhythm again after such-and-such.”
It took a year of this to realize that life isn’t going to follow suit.
I had failed to submit to the fact that life is arrhythmic. Under this banner of trying to find my rhythm, I betrayed myself by assuming that the scaffolding of every week would be the same. (I’d like to meet a solopreneur with a family and friends that has two weeks that look the same.)
What does it look like to find rhythm in an arrhythmic life?
It kind of feels like another lesson in ‘do the best with what you have’ or as I’ve been taught so many times, but still forget every minute: ‘do as you can, not as you can’t’.
In all of my striving for what I thought was rhythm, true phrases like ‘have grace for yourself,’ were dethroned by self-invented platitudes like ‘do it all,’ ‘be better,’ and ‘your worth is in your productivity (who’s metric is obviously art sales and directee sign-ups).’ I needed a reset button to kill the lies I was running on and dying by. I needed to redefine rhythm.
Where and when did my idea of rhythm become everything looking the same every single week and layering my own magical, amazingly productive, and financially successful pattern over my normal life? No idea. But what actually would rhythm look like… in a real life?
Rhythm: “1) A: an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech… 2) A: the aspect of music comprising all the elements that relate to forward movement… 3) A: movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements…” (Merriam-Webster).
I love that part of the definition in 1A where it combines ‘strong and weak elements in the flow.’ It really puts me on my butt. I somehow believed that every day of every week and every minute of every day had to be strong. I had forgotten that balance of rhythm depends on both the strong and the weak, the busy and the nothingness, the silence and the chaos, the full and the empty.
In the pursuit of wanting to do it all… I’ve done nothing, and under the banner of ‘finding a rhythm’ I’ve let myself hustle for unreal expectations.
I know in my heart that love from and for God is my foundation… but when I look back over my last week and feel like a failure because I haven’t done it all… that love is obviously not my base.
In the definitions above, I also love the idea of ‘forward movement’; that rhythm is a combination of strong and weak elements in ‘forward movement.’ I’m reforming my broken idea of rhythm into a definition that fits my arrhythmic life: rhythm is a series of strong and weak moments and/or actions that move symphonically toward a greater understanding of God’s love.
There’s freedom from striving, doubt, and self-annihilation by busy in those words. And I’m trying to remember, I haven’t wasted a year trying to hustle into a good work for God… I’ve spent a year learning a freedom I’ve never known for my work.
So, for now… I’ll burn my banner of ‘finding my rhythm’ and I’ll try to tell people about the strong and the weak moments and actions that have shown me more of how God loves. I’ll try to let God run my ‘business’ a little more… and try to do as I can and not as I can’t.