“It strikes me as interesting that if someone loved banking, he wouldn’t chastise or castigate himself for choosing that life. If someone loved history and wanted a life as a history professor, that would be a socially acceptable choice, although it is, in fact, ever bit as self-indulgent as doing anything else you love–writing, for example. ~ Julia Cameron, The Right to Write.
I am struck by the question: So what if it looks self-indulgent? Who is to judge?
When I first began writing, eons ago, I felt guilty about the hours spent, when I ‘should’ be cleaning house, cooking dinners, sewing clothes, volunteering on school field trips, maybe getting a ‘real’ job to make managing the budget easier. But the compulsion pulled at me–I just had to write, something I barely realized. I simply felt terribly guilty, even while I wrote. After I was a selling writer, I felt somewhat better, but still, the roles of wife and mother that in my mind, how I was raised to think of those roles, nagged at me. I tried to do it all–keeping the house, being available as a mother and wife, yes, I went and read to children at school and went on field trips, and every evening met my husband with a glass of cold tea and helped him with his projects, too. During the day, I wrote. I pushed myself beyond all my body’s ability to do and be everything to everyone. Eventually I broke under the weight of all the ‘should’ I imposed on myself, and all of it distorted thinking because I did not understand how much the world imposes ideals on us.
Today I am back at my writing, because I finally realize it is an enormous part of me and a requirement to keep breathing on the earth. Mornings are mine. I have an urge to shout it at the world. Mornings are when I write, or dream, or putter, or read. Don’t interrupt me. Yes, I still have a bit of trouble holding fast to this, but I’m getting better. In fact, as I write this, I think of a situation with someone that I will have to step up and change, because it interferes with my morning. It occurs to me also that there are sacrifices involved. This is called responsibility for my life.
What happens when you finally take responsibility for your life? No one to blame.
I’m not talking about leaving your spouse and children. I’m not speaking of the immature self-indulgence–although, really, who is to decide this but each of us individually? But I do say today is given to you, 24 hours given to you, not to the world to tell you how to live. Make a choice for at least a portion of those hours to write, to bake, to garden, to let yourself hear what is in your heart to do, even if it takes trying different things to find out. Even if it looks like a waste to other people. It occurs to me that what we are about is allowing ourselves to be ourselves.