Sometimes I feel I’m walking through life like an automaton. Get up early and boil the tea, kiss my husband and do yoga on TV, wake the kids, fix the lunches, type a bit, take a nap.
I never move too fast, I don’t talk too loud. I don’t wear weird stuff or do crazy things. My life has become so slow and appropriate that I feel like I’m living at 65%. Maybe in trying to do everything right, I had gotten something wrong.
Last Saturday my husband Enrico and I went away just the two of us for the first time in forever. We had tickets to see Moulin Rouge, my favorite movie, now on Broadway. After arriving in the Big Apple covered with 7 inches of freshly-fallen snow, we jumped across puddles of slush and swerved on sidewalks smeared with white, as a snowplow crawled down 8th Avenue.
Inside the theater, red velvet covered the walls, a lighted windmill turned slowly, and giant concentric hearts framed the stage. When the lights went down, electric bass guitar pounded through my chest, strobes flashed the backs of my eyes, and bodysuits sparkled all over the stage like sunlight. Dancers and singers dressed in rainbows of ruffles and lace, beads and rhinestones told a story of love and loss, and I didn’t want it to end.
As Enrico and I gripped each other hopping back to our warm hotel room, we didn’t talk about taxes, we didn’t fill the cat feeder, or recycle the newspapers. When I looked at the souvenir t-shirt and glittery charm he bought me, I felt so grateful and I knew I needed more Moulin Rouge in my life.
My life had gotten muffled under the wool of routine, chore charts, and cozy slippers. Writers need quiet to do their work, but too much smothers the flame.
So back in D.C., after I took Diana to school and bought the groceries, I found a Moulin Rouge dance workout on YouTube, and I danced. By myself, no mirrors, in my sweatpants, hair in a bun. After a few minutes, I could feel my body tingling all over, and I couldn’t stop smiling, and when it came to the love song I cried, and it felt so good.
"Butt in chair” is not everything. Sometimes what is needed is butt in air. Our vitality, our passion, our emotions are in our bones, our blood, our heart. Creativity needs newness and motion and risk to grow and flourish. If we are only living in our heads, we forget how deep and wide and wild we are.
So I’ve decided. When I’m feeling tired and blah, unmotivated or stuck, the solution is not likely another nap or a newfangled planner. It might be a little Can-can.