The Gift of Being

The Gift of Being

On the train from Winnipeg to Toronto
On the train from Winnipeg to Toronto

“Me” time. I’ve never understood the concept. I found it to be a little obnoxious if even. Why do I need to take time for myself? As if I’m not constantly making decisions that benefit me.

But this last month has been full of reflection. And I think I might finally understand the concept of taking time for yourself, although I’d probably call it something else.

Generally speaking, the motto for my life has been: be a better human being. And you can imagine how quickly someone might fail at this quest. Every day I hadn’t accomplished something to save the world, advance my future or change a life, was a day that hadn’t lived up to my enormous expectations.

And in that deep and ambitious search for purpose, (because that’s really what I’ve been trying to find) I found myself not only constantly physically and emotionally exhausted, but deeply guilt-ridden when I felt like I’d wasted my time.

But here’s the thing: If I’m going to beat myself up for every time I watch a movie on Netflix instead of figuring out how to become a better human being, I lose part of my humanity in the process. I lose out on one of the most valuable gifts we have as humans, the gift of just being.

In this last month, I took plenty of time to just enjoy this gift. I took a 36-hour train ride solo from Winnipeg to Toronto (a “waste of time” I could’ve easily avoided by taking a plane). I stretched my musical muscles and released my inner gamer geek. I watched tv shows and movies. I went biking and worked muscles I didn’t know even know existed. I started sewing and painting again. All things I’ve been meaning to do for a while. But I just couldn’t give myself the time. I couldn’t see how any of these activities would add up to something meaningful, something I could use.

But most importantly, I learned to write again. And I think that’s what really did the trick. Writing has played such a huge role in helping me process life. Every time I’ve put a pen to paper, I’ve come out with a strong sense of self and understanding of the world than I had before.

So here’s to allowing yourself to just be. And in that process, becoming a better human being.

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The Fan Girl in All of Us

The Fan Girl in All of Us

The Big Apple had landed. New York City in Toronto. Storefronts were changed. Street signs were taken down. NY-style subways were planted on the sidewalk.

Oh, the intrigue of a film set. Like a forbidden paradise of trailers and wires and jaded crew folk. But if you look closely, you just might find a rare species amongst the lighting equipment.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what was being filmed: Beauty and Beast, the television show which stars Kristin Kreuk (or as I know her, Lana Lang from Smallville).

My brain made the connection instantly. Kristin Kreuk, the woman who formed a huge part of my Smallville-obsessed high school angst, was just a block away from me. I suddenly felt an impulse to catch a glimpse of her. So I sauntered over to the film set to the tune of Remy Zero’s Save Me.

The scene was extraordinary: the director yelled action. A crew of planted cars, including some New York taxis, drove by. And petite Ms. Kreuk, stepped off the sidewalk and raised her arm as if to hail a cab. Cut. It’s understandable why this pivotal scene justified the disruption of a busy city street.

Step by step by step, I made my way to the celebrity. At just the precise moment, when I was passing by where I thought she was standing, I looked to my left and there she was, nestled amongst the cameras, staring straight at me. My heart lept. I smiled and kept walking.

And for the rest of the day, I could think of nothing else but the moment when our eyes met. She was real. She was…human. And she looked exactly like she did on TV. She was tiny and beautiful.

My thoughts were immediately flooded with giddy euphoria. But the more I thought about our small, meaningless interaction, the more I doubted it. It drew me to a state of anxiety. Should I have said hi? Could I have asked for a picture? Either of those ideas both excited and terrified me. Oh no, I could never. Though I wanted to talk to her, I struggled to think of anything meaningful to say. Though I wanted to take a picture with her, I didn’t want to invade her personal space. I wasn’t a creepy fan girl.

And there it was, the creature living inside of me all along: the fan girl. In an instant of spotting a celebrity, I lost all sense of the maturity I’ve worked so hard to convey. What remained were giggles and this nagging desire to get as close as I possibly could.

What was it about Ms. Kreuk that reduced me to this irrational state? She is nothing but a character to me. I don’t know anything about her except the roles she’s played. And I’m absolutely nothing to her. I went home that day and continued my life just as usual. Meeting Kristin Kreuk wouldn’t have made any difference unless she offered me a job or a date with Tom Welling.

When I focused on this truth, although my bubble burst, I returned to reality. I can admire an actor’s work and persona, while acknowledging that my existence runs parallel to them. Sometimes my path might cross with some rich, popular person, and it doesn’t matter if I stop to talk, or keep on walking. We both move forward. Perhaps this is the cure to keeping the fan girl at bay.