The last time I was here, I wrote about the gift of transcending our normal comfort zone and finding other realities. That means moving on the impulse of the moment. The problem with impulses are that they can be wonderful and delightful experiences, but also may contain an underbelly or negative result.
The impulse to gamble away this month’s rent could, odds being what they are, result in not only doubling last month’s rent money, but the grocery and utility bills as well, and maybe even more. The down side of that is that, odds being what they are, one is more likely to find oneself living on the street or sleeping on someone else’s couch.
Impulses can be bad habits, and simply become an extension of our comfort zone if we engage in them regularly, ignoring those oh so present odds. Yet, on the other hand, they can provide those transcending moments of which I spoke last time. How does one tell the difference, thereby knowing when to engage or not?
Although the word impulse seems to speak of spur of the moment action, it must be action that has some thought behind it, even if that thought is simply the memory of sleeping on someone else’s couch the last time we had the impulse to gamble away the rent money. If we ignore that flashing image of memory, then we may not be acting impulsively, but rather compulsively, and we would be far better off engaging in some deep introspection about why we are determined to put ourselves and our homes at risk.
I can speak to such things because I have engaged in trips to the Casino to play the slots. I am also aware of my own compulsive tendencies, so my trips were preceded by an awareness of how much money I could spend and underlined by the reality that that was the only amount I would take with me. When it was gone, I left. Sometimes my visits only lasted ten minutes or less, but I stuck to those self-imposed rules and always had the rent paid in full before setting off on such a venture.
My circumstances have changed and I have not been inside the Casino in almost a year, even though it is only a mile from my doorstep and I have passed by it on a regular basis when going grocery shopping. Instead, I have been paying off a debt and when the final payment was made, decided to save up for a particular goal which is far more important to me than any momentary rush of flashing lights and honky-tonk type sirens.
That does not mean however, that I have become like Jack, whom I mentioned in my last blog. I still engage in impulsive adventures. One was just recently and was the prompt to a whole new endeavor that gives me deep pleasure and satisfaction, but has nothing to do with money, the rent, or siren songs.
I keep a journal every day, and do that the moment I awaken each morning. Just over a week ago, I got up in my usual groggy fashion and headed for the chair in front of my computer. This is my routine, my habit formed over years, my comfort zone. Halfway to the chair, I stopped moving because a very unusual thought was forming in my head. It was a sentence, random words that made a startling opening line.
And it wasn’t going to be dismissed. It refused to go away, just stayed there as solid as cement and refused to budge. This was not normal. It, by its very tenacity, was demanding my attention. No more than an impulse, but one I couldn’t ignore or swat away like some pesky mosquito. I pulled up a blank page on the Word Processing program and typed in the sentence.
And came up for air almost two hours later, with some of the best writing I think I may have ever done. It certainly wasn’t a page in my journal. It was the opening lines to a story I had wanted to write for years and seemed completely unable to ever finish. I had somehow been blocked every time I had tried and had finally given up on ever accomplishing the task.
This was more than exciting. The blocks that had always seemed to be there, just simply melted away, no longer existed. I had no idea where it might lead, but I was determined to stay with it. And did, for the next five or six mornings, completely letting go of that long established journal routine. And each of those mornings, as I awoke with every intention of filling a page in my journal, the next sentence of the story would form in my mind on the way to the computer.
Then one morning it just stopped. It didn’t feel right, wasn’t working. So, I simply turned back to my journal pages and in that process worked out what wasn’t coming together. A bit of emotional turmoil I wasn’t consciously aware of. So that afternoon, I worked on the next two pages of the story. And have continued in that vein ever since, sometimes doing journal pages, other times going straight to the story.
I was a bit uneasy about dropping my usual routine, then realized that that routine was something I had chosen, put in place years ago, and could choose to discontinue at any time. I had created the rules that governed my experience and kept to them. And they had been very rewarding. What’s more, they were informing this new endeavor in ways that were surprising and yet, comforting all at the same time.
I was in familiar surroundings, doing something I am practiced and good at. Granted, in was otherwise brand new, based on one simple impulse, but still very comfortable. It was my choice, I could choose to stop it at any point, or continue simply following the words to wherever they led. I was not tempted to close off the experience, but rather energized to continue. And I had proof that it was the right thing to do. The proof came in almost two chapters of writing and a wonderful feeling of being in the exact place I was supposed to be in. Doing exactly what I was meant to do and that all those journal pages had prepared me to do.
What’s more, all those previous impulses to write and tell the story, were simply flags to keep me on the path. An awareness that it might be a difficult endeavor, but they had also sorted out the blocks, or possible obstacles, and even prepared the way by finding solutions to many of them. I’m more than glad and grateful that I listened to that impulse and acted on it. It was time to do so.