Living the Wheel: Seasonal Musings of the Pagan Year
Thoughts and musings of the wheel of the Pagan Year.
Living Life Consciously
How do I know I am living my life consciously? This question came to me as I stood at my kitchen counter preparing a morning cup of tea, gazing out at the neighbor's immense apple tree. I pondered it as I sipped my tea. How do I know? I realized I know when I'm not, and that seemed like as good a place as any to begin exploring this new question.
When I am not living consciously, because I'm too caught up in everything going on and trying too hard to get things done that I fail to actually pay attention to what I'm doing, everything is just harder, and takes so much more work: plants begin dying, dishes pile up, the living room becomes a landmass of toys, laundry baskets, library books and shoes. This is not meant to be an essay on housekeeping, nor a meditation on homecaring as a metaphor for caring for the self--I'll leave that to Sarah Ban Breathnach. However, these factors are indicative of how consciously I am living my life. I am a mother and wife; a homemaker as much as a writer; I am a Pagan and Kitchen Witch. I write in between loads of dishes and supervising my four year old's writing lessons. I plot blog updates while popovers bake and then drive my seventeen year old to drumline rehearsal. Many, if not most of the people reading this have similar routines. I don't think my day-to-day reality is any more difficult than others'; indeed, it may be easier. I'm not rushing out of my house each morning to drop my youngest off at daycare, going to spend six to eight (or ten, or twelve!) hours at work, then collecting three children from various locations to come home and cook, clean and supervise homework. I used to. (I am not, however, implying that we stay-at-home parents do not work hard. I am reminded of this every evening around six o'clock when, having finished making dinner, I walk into the living room that my four year old has spent the previous half an hour demolishing, and my two teenagers have given up on their homework because I wasn't there to answer questions.)
How does this relate to living consciously? When I am living consciously, taking things moment by moment and pausing to enjoy certain aspects of my day (my little one tapping his small feet on my leg as we snuggle up to read If You Give a Cat a Cupcake for the tenth time in a week; afternoon tea at three o'clock when my teenagers are home from school; my husband whistling as he climbs the stairs to our apartment; the look of my sunshiny kitchen when all the damn dishes are finally washed and put away) I find I am happier, more focused, more productive, more relaxed. More open to Divine inspiration, if you will permit me a bit of hubris.
When I am living consciously (or consciously living?) writing is easier, more fluid. I have more time to write. Housework doesn't feel quite so demanding, or like such a waste of my time. Yes, I may still have to make my bed three times because the four year old persists in using it for a trampoline, but I find myself laughing about it instead of arguing with him. Instead of sniping at my older son to stay focused on his English homework, I make each of us a mug of tea and sit with him to sort out how he can best write his paper. My daughter's toxic waste dump of a bedroom is fodder for jokes instead of arguments and slamming doors. I am more conscious of my own faults (procrastination, my overwhelming hatred for washing dishes)and therefore more accepting of those of people around me.
Watering plants is a pleasant puttering instead of just another chore. Making a batch of cookies for tea with my four year old isn't another mess to clean up but an hour of fun culminating in a sweet surprise for the other children (and my husband if any are left.) Dishes are still wildly unpleasant, but I'm able to focus on an axiom by Gunilla Norris: 'My life will always have dirty dishes. If this sink can become a place of contemplation, let me learn constancy here.' Sometimes it helps.
When I'm living consciously, the Divine doesn't seem so separate from the everyday. The stove is no longer just a tool: washed, shining white, a candle set behind the burners, it becomes an alter to Hestia. The pantry, dusted and organized is an altar to Nisaba; likewise the desk in the living room, usually piled with bills, video games, library books, stray socks and Transformers.
I am aware that I am living consciously when I find I not only have time but quiet to meditate. When prayers occur gracefully and not as a hurried afterthought, tossed out as I toss back hours-old cold tea. Morning is a welcome herald to a new day, not a tedious struggling to get up and tend to a seemingly endless list of thankless chores.
To live consciously is to be aware. To be aware of our needs as the days swirl around us in a whirlpool of chores and responsibilities. When we get caught up in these responsibilities and so busy tending to the needs and wants of others that we lose sight of what we need, we are not only living unconsciously, but we are shortchanging the people we care about. Are we even living, really? Or are we just existing?
As the Wheel turns toward Lammas, I urge you to take time out of your very busy life to focus on yourself, or your needs. Make every attempt to consciously live your life. Perhaps it will become second nature to you. Perhaps it may become your nature. The Pagan year is drawing to a close, if you can believe it. The first of our harvest festivals is cresting the horizon. Do not let your soul die in this season of abundance. Live. Live with joy, with fervor. Take the words of Molly Bloom to heart: 'And yes I said yes I will Yes.'
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