How To Burn Down A Life

There’s a moment where you realize that the more you try to help the process of getting your life together, the more it falls apart.  One morning, you wake up, you drink coffee, you listen to the birds, and you realize the answer was there all along: switch teams and burn your life down. 

I didn’t make this decision because I’m sad or because it’s hard to Do Things.  I’ve made this decision while I’m mentally very well (neither depressed nor manic).  There is no space for any life amid the half constructed/destroyed rubble of what I have been trying to build ever since I left Michigan with a backpack and a dream. I have not gone fully toward any of my goals (except school, and that broke my heart to stop going, even though I knew I should) and that is so much worse than not doing it at all.  All of it needs to be ash.

The minute I gave the plan a name, I felt hope for the first time in a very long time. 

Someone once told me that a dream dies three times before it comes to fruition.  I don’t know if that’s true,  I don’t know if I even believe in having a dream any more,  but if it’s true then I am in the home stretch.  At night, I dream of those pinecones that only propagate where there is fire.

I’ve been plotting the arson of my heart for a while. I started seeking an answer in earnest on a weekend at the ocean with my best friend, a month ago. The other week I was horribly sick, and could not read or watch TV I was so ill… and so my mind churned and it all crystallized. So now I have a plan.

Step 1:  Get rid of all the things that are attached to the definition of self you have been living. 

For me, this is getting rid of visual white noise, getting rid of projects I haven’t finished, getting rid of decor that has to do with who I want to be.  Not making things uncomfortable or getting rid of everything, but stripping down to essentials.  Getting rid of anything that I find uncomfortable.  I’m systematically getting rid of things that I don’t want to clean, things that are linked to my journey of creating. I’m going to trash the collage by my bed of things that comfort me, the ideals that I would like to enjoy and live.  They are done.

Step 2:  Let go of people who are not allies. 

They don’t have to be bad.  I just have to pare down my time and attention and increase quality.  Anyone who treats me like the Giving Tree and sits on my stump… i’m burning the stump.  Go sit on someone else.  Anyone who talks about collaboration but really means control.  Anyone who can’t receive love (we are burning a life down, we don’t have time at the moment to teach anyone).  Maybe it’s not forever, but it has to be firm for the foreseeable future.

3. Give up the idea that you are doing your job “just for now”.

I had dreams of doing all sorts of creative things for a living.  Then I thought that I would go to work and use the work to fund creative things.  What this meant in real life is that I did not ever buy into what I was doing.  Even when I found the work interesting and recognized that there was a potential for fulfillment,  the fact that I wasn’t doing what I felt I was meant to do undermined everything whether I knew it or not.  So I have decided to Buy In.  This Is What I Do Now.  Maybe I’ll never do anything else in my life, maybe I will… but as far as I’m concerned, This Is It For Me.  I’m going to figure out how to not only do it better, but do it the best.

4. Stop Being A “Good Wife” and “Good Daughter”

Because I am an enabler.  I am a worrier, I feel guilt that has no basis. I have unrealistic expectations of how I should be.  I have to get rid of all that mess in my head and emotions and daily life and leave a blankness.  I’m not saying to not love and support my husband and parents, but that my ideas of that are broken and can just be leveled.

5.Say No to Everything For a While

This is the one I haven’t really started yet.  I want to get further with steps 1-4.  Once the beautiful blankness arrives, I will Decide What To Do Next.

6. Externalize A Little Bit 

I have never been someone who spent a ton of time on hair and clothes and nails and makeup, but I’ve realized they can be armor.  My natural transparency can be a little obscured by it, and it gives me some breathing room.  It gives me a creative outlet without undoing what I’ve been working on.

7. To Be Determined

Not sure what G-d is going to do with all this, I’m just very sure He is orchestrating all of this.  I’m very sure that I am guided and that I am empowered to make these decisions and that there is a Hope and a Future even though I’ve given up any notion of what that looks like.

All of the sudden, I feel like I can almost breathe again without sharpness in my chest.


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