I don’t know much about fantasy football, but it is my understanding that the game is to assemble the best team on paper that you can from all active players on all teams. That’s how I have tended to create schedules for myself.
My fantasy schedule is dominated by “should”: I should wash the kitchen floor every week, I should meditate, I should eat less sugar, I should practice parking more often, I should create a morning ritual, I should call my mother more often… in my head, I create elaborate schedules that include all the things I should do, but it is just a fantasy. “Should” isn’t about intention or action; it’s about guilt and (self-)criticism.
I’ve recently decided to try to give up the word “should”. When I hear myself tell myself that I should do something, I stop and ask myself if I actually care about doing it. If the answer is “yes”, then I change the sentence to one of real intention: “I will do that tonight”. If the answer is “no”, then I give myself permission to let go of the guilt and the fantasy.
I’ve been finding that a very big challenge, and one of the areas where I have particular trouble is related to spirituality. I have been having trouble letting go of the idea that one day I’ll want to spend my mornings meditating, sipping herbal tea with a nutritious breakfast, and conducting simple but deeply meaningful rituals. The truth is, I want to spend my morning drinking espresso, playing Solitaire on my phone, and serving as a warm lap for my cat.
I been thinking about that gap between desire and action and why it exists. I have always wanted to be a spiritual person, but I never put plans into action, at least not for long. Then a friend of mine, who has been running Vancouver Pagan Pride Day for several years now, said something in one of the preparation meetings for the March 19th fundraiser event to the effect of “This is my spiritual work.”
That rattled around in my head until I had one of those slap-your-forehead moments: for all my discussions about different ways to be Pagan and the centres of Paganism, I had never thought about what my own inclination towards Community-Centred Paganism actually meant for my personal practices. It should have been no wonder that meditating, praying, lighting candles, and making offerings didn’t work for me; solitary ritual would never tick the right boxes for me. What does work for me is participating in group ritual, volunteering for the community, writing group rituals, and writing this blog. My spiritual work doesn’t look like I expected it to, so I dismiss what I am actually doing – what is actually calling me and bringing me satisfaction – and try to make myself into what I picture religious looks like. And since that doesn’t call me, it just leads to “should”.
My spiritual practice doesn’t look like kneeling in front of an altar praying. My spiritual practice looks like sitting in front of a laptop, it looks like long walks thinking about theology, it looks like my spiritual family sharing bread by candlelight after grounding, and it looks like editing a book and creating workshops. That’s where my spirit wants to be, and it makes it easy to avoid fantasy schedules and just do things.