Carving Out Space
I can be a workaholic.
Last week, my job assisting TV writers was especially busy, getting home around 10pm each night only to open my laptop and work on my own writing projects.
Some people call it “being in the zone” – my husband calls it “being terrified to interrupt me because I might yell at him.”
Either way, I have a hard time letting go of work.
My freshmen year of college I was so terrified to fail that my equally afraid roommate and I spent thirty-two hours one weekend doing homework. We didn’t stop for breakfast or dinner and I remember looking over at her from my desk underneath my lofted bed and wondering if this was my life now.
Would I always be this greasy-haired, hungry girl who obsessed over papers about women in 15th Century Spain?
(If I needed a Match.com bio I think I just found it.)
We eventually emerged that Sunday night, drove bleary eyed to Bennigan’s, and ordered two giant Monte Cristo sandwiches. I don’t think anything has ever tasted so good.
This inability to stop working has served me well in many ways but it has also caused me to lose track of myself.
In Los Angeles, this kind of behavior is considered normal – even necessary. People here are always striving. Contentedness seems to be a foreign concept.
It is so easy to get caught up in pursuing a career. So easy for me to get wrapped up in working through the weekends and never giving my self time to breathe.
This city with its flashing signs and caffeinated pace doesn’t offer a lot of space to be still. And it’s in the stillness that real creativity can happen.
It’s times like these when I miss the farm the most. The feeling of endless days and being surrounded by land as far as I could see did something to the interior of my soul.
Whenever I go back it makes my heart beat at a slower pace. It makes my muscles relax. Being wrapped in the big, endless world like that reminds you how small you are – how all the worrying and fretting and striving isn’t always necessary.
Last weekend, I hit a wall. In fact, I was writing this very article when I looked up and decided I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had to take a break.
So I tied up my shoes and convinced Jason to for for a hike. We climbed up through fields of flowers and large sycamore trees, stopping to rest at an overlook. The ocean sparkled below us and the breeze smelled like wet earth. Immediately I was carried back to North Dakota in the spring - the melting snow, the warm sun, and the space I had to enjoy all of it.
My heart filled and I stood there, sweating in my gym clothes, breathing in the scent of home.
I am pursuing a career that rewards working all the time but in order for creativity to flourish I need space. Even it feels impossible to pull away.
Sometimes that means a late night run to a restaurant wearing your pajamas and sometimes it means getting outside.
It makes me a better artist, a better wife, a better friend, a better person.
Now excuse me, I have more work to do.
This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum. You can find them (and me) here.