Where I end and you begin
From the Run Wild Creative archive
This comes form the Run Wild Creative archive, an email newsletter from way back when.
Why hello stranger,
I'm eating blueberries that I picked from the shrubs a couple of hours ago. It's a blistering day, but the wind is cool and the cicadas are loud. To be honest, I really like the heat of an Australian summer, the impending tan lines, the desire for water, the blistering heat of the ground under bare feet. I even secretly like sweating without moving an inch.
Over the last year, I've been dismantling and letting go of my personal rules. You have no idea how rigid I was. A thousand written rules that I kept close to my chest.
I don't know if I told you, but I literally had a spreadsheet of people that I would see weekly, monthly, yearly + in certain countries. All so I could control things. I followed my own rules and calendar because I was afraid that if I let it all go, I would be consumed by other people. There's a beautiful Radiohead song, that sings "There's a gap in between, there's a gap in between, Where I end and you begin."
And up until recently, I thought that gap was as thin and delicate as tissue paper. I thought that if I allowed others to fill my mind with their thoughts and feelings, it was a sign that I was compassionate.
But at the end of that Radiohead song, Thom Yorke repeats like a mantra "I will eat you alive, I will eat you alive" while the music pounds away.
The pivot in my life came when I read "How to stay human in a fucked up world". It shifted my thinking. I thought I was being empathetic all this time, but I was doing a disservice to myself and the other person, because I was being sympathetic.
Sympathy: When you feel like something that is happening to another person is happening to you
Empathy: When you can imagine what it must be like for somebody else, but you don't take their suffering as your own
I deleted the spreadsheet.
I increased the gap between, the gap where I end and you begin. I started to put in boundaries. I started to listen without taking others' suffering as my own. I started saying no, I started saying yes, more, please, to those that lit me up. Fuck the spreadsheet.
The more I look at all these invisible rules we follow with fresh eyes, the more I realise how silly it all is. You can waste a perfectly joyous life following rules or staying glued to societal norms. You can waste a perfectly joyous life trying to make the people in your spreadsheet, the people in your social network, happy.
This morning, over video chat, I watched my sister's baby daughter put her pudgy little hands all over my sister's face, probing, pulling. She doesn't care about what others think, she's playing with the gaps in between.
While I write, there's a red ant slowly making it's way towards me. Did I tell you that I moved to the blue mountains? I feel like I have sandstone cliffs etched into the gaps between my bones, but that's another story.
I hope you are loved and well. I hope that you dance under the upcoming full moon and that you have access to good food and clean, clear, cool water.
Remember, you are alive.
Find another living being that isn't a human and imagine what life is like for them as you watch them go about their day. An ant, an animal, a bird.
This universe is large once we put aside our spreadsheets and screens.