A Colourful Life: The Monkey Mind

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I am all alone. The children are with their Grandparents and Joel has nipped out to get his booster jab. In the spirit of “squeezing in bursts of creativity” (see blog post on this), I thought I would at least start some writing even if it all came out in a bit of a splurge and never amounted to anything.
I have learnt, as a parent who needs creativity in her life in order to survive, I can’t be picky about where or when or for how long I get to create. Twenty minutes whilst the children are settled? Finish that blog post…
I’ve also learnt it’s much better to take action, than to spend too long pondering the action, something I’m very good at. (Which is an obvious one whether you’re a parent or not..)
In my case, this means just write the damn blog post, rather than spending days weighing up whether that particular blog post is even worth writing. Or whether I am “ready” to write it.
Of course the pondering is not limited to my writing. The current quandary is my old favourite: What to pursue as a career.
This question rattles round my mind endlessly on loop nearly every single day. Sometimes I get sucked in, playing out the same thoughts over and over again, following each rabbit hole to the end, until I reach the same conclusion: “I don’t know.”
Other times I am able to swiftly turn my thoughts to other things.
Buddhists refer to this state of mind as “the monkey mind”, meaning “unsettled; restless; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”. These are frustratingly accurate adjectives.

Because of course “not knowing” is perfectly acceptable. Whilst is doesn’t feel that way, uncertainty around which path to take next, is completely “normal”. It’s just also incredibly uncomfortable.
My favourite spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle writes:

If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into aliveness, alertness and creativity.”

Sadly, I am mostly still halted at the fear stage. I loathe not having a plan. And yet, when I try and come up with one, I drive myself crazy because it doesn’t feel right. “One step at a time” feels too slow and I want to know ALL the steps. I’ve spent a great deal of wasted minutes trying to figure everything out in my mind, only to look up and realise I’ve achieved nothing.
(None of this is helped by the stubborn recurring thought that I am far “behind” my peers because I have not yet established myself in the professional world, despite having my hands full with the perfectly noble task of motherhood.)

I turn twenty nine next year, and find myself in an in-between moment. A crossroads if you like.
I live and breathe writing, and would love to pursue it professionally, but feel unsure as to the best steps to take.

I also adore art, did it for A-Level and would love the opportunity to explore this with a dedicated studio space and the guidance of tutors. Whether it’s a career option I don’t know, but I’d like to be open minded about where a creative degree could lead. I remember discussing the option of pursuing Art at university with my Dad when I was about seventeen.
“But what career prospects are there with Art? Surely the jobs are limited…” I recall him saying. Sadly at the time, I wasn’t even sure myself so didn’t bother trying to sway him on it. I felt discouraged. All I knew then was I loved making art. Eleven years later, I’ve learnt there are plenty of careers in the creative industries, and I needn’t have let my Dad’s naivety put me off. (Or use it as an excuse for why I never pursued it.)

Then there is my old friend acting. One of my greatest joys, but a headache to balance with motherhood. I have recently returned to acting classes, which feels like the perfect compromise.

For now, with the blur of mothering young children clouding any serious thinking on the matter, I’ve decided to simply do what I can. Do my best to write daily, and paint whenever possible. I count myself lucky I am able to do both regularly.
There is no perfect balance, and there will never be a perfect plan that actually goes to plan. I am aware it is highly possibly I’ll end up in a career completely unrelated to all of these passions, which wouldn’t be the worst thing.
With no roadmap to life, it really is about each and every small step, hopefully in the right direction.


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