I haven’t talked much about my word, mostly because I have been busy. Interesting, since Shmita is supposed to be about not doing. (Shmita is the Hebrew term, the year where farmers are supposed to leave the land to heal, a time of non-harvest, a year of not producing.)
Havi was talking about this, she is the one who introduced this concept to me and speaks of it. As the creator of ‘coincidences’ does, I happened to be reading her post about talking to the ocean…literally fifteen feet from the ocean. (I live in a desert. This was pre-arranged.)
In her post Less, she talks about how the ocean tells her things, how it shows her wisdom. How it told her ‘no more projects’. I took a walk, and prayed, and the creator of the ocean did the work.
I don’t feel led to stop projects. Projects fuel me. My Shmita, my year to let the land lie fallow, has to do with the relentless grappling of my mind. My mind is a busy little bee, but usually not in the productive, organized, methodical sense. It is a bee on crack. I have learned a lot about my personality lately, which has helped me understand what my mind is doing. In Briggs-Myers terms, I am an INFJ. (My E and I are very close. So I relate there too. If you don’t know your type, I suggest you find an online test and see if the description fits. It is very telling.) As part of this personality combination, I see potential in all things, in all people, in myself, and I place high value in supporting and facilitating that potential. That in and of itself is a good quality…but when you constantly see yourself as an improvement project, it leads to continuous nagging, frustration, disappointment. (Which is ironic, because I don’t project that part onto others, just myself.) I see all the ways I can be a better me. And I am pretty creative about it, so it is relentless, and unrealistic. On top of that, the wrestling with the loss of a relationship, anxiety about the future…my brain is constantly abuzz. It is a kind of hell. I saw a silly little meme on Pinterest that said, “I have lost my mind, and am making no attempt to look for it.” And it sounded like the best concept in the world.
So here is my half-formed Shmita plan (which really isn’t that late, since Hebrew calendars are different than ours), one that allows me to continue doing what I love but gives me Shmita rest:
Maybe I choose to interrupt the chain of thoughts that threaten to spiral downward with art, with friendships, with music and a spastic dance alone in my living room. Maybe I do this instead of stare into the abyss, trying to make sense of it and conquer it, which never works anyway.
Maybe I choose to nurture relationships I do have as a substitute for dwelling on the ones I don’t.
Maybe I accept the ebb and flow of my encounters with God as his will and way, rather than act as if something is withheld until I finally grasp some unknowable truth that is right in front of me.
Maybe I refocus. When I need to strive for something, I strive for peace, not self improvement. If I need to relentlessly pursue, it will be pursuing beauty. If I find myself searching for an area of struggle, I will direct my mind to struggle to improve the way I love myself, as I am, in this place, at this moment.
Maybe I read for pleasure, not for acquiring some strategy for growth.
Maybe I continue my exercise routine, but I stop weighing myself every day and lamenting of its unfavorable changes or stalls.
Maybe I don’t push so hard. Maybe I don’t push. Maybe I learn the opposite of push, which somehow sounds like grace.
Even my vacation this year has been directed to this. The last big trip, which I have neglected to show you even a part of (future plans to revert back to this)…my husband and I tromped around Europe, with a list of marvelous creations by the best artists mankind ever produced. (I am very grateful and awed to have checked them off the list.) This big trip, chosen by my husband as a gift for our 25th wedding anniversary, consists of depositing ourselves on various beaches and waiting to see what nature choses to reveal. It is the perfect Shmita vacation. (Now if I can quiet my anxieties about logistics…that will be a part of this plan.)
I was led to this poem recently, Desiderata, that is guiding my thoughts.
A portion goes like this:
“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.”
So this is my Shmita year. Which secretly, without revealing it to my bee buzz mind, I hope becomes permanent. Don’t tell her.