Kicking Full-Assed Out the Door

Last week I wrote about my delight in finding a book for people who were prepared to get full-assed. You know, half-assed efforts bring half-assed results so let’s do the fully monty, so to speak.I thought that was hilarious. I still think it’s hilarious. But being hilarious is really where it ends for me, because other than that, it’s actually pretty irritating. I discovered this when I printed the full-assed quote on a bright pink background and posted it prominently on my writing desk, right under my laptop. (Yes, with due attribution to the author, Lama Marut).

Maybe the bright pink was the problem.

Every time I looked at those words, every time I sat down at my desk, I had the grating sense of being bellowed at by a loudmouth with a megaphone.* Git ‘er done. Get your ass in your chair! Don’t just sit there, write something! The longer it stayed taped under my computer screen, the harsher that smack of All-American achievement mentality felt. I am sure this approach works for some folks, but I am equally sure that it undermines the rest of us. This You can do it! attitude can actually be counter-productive, exhausting and contrary to the natural flow of a human life. There’s a delicate balance to be struck here: to stay firmly on the side of showing up, having patience, faith and tenacity, to continuing plugging  away at something because it is important to you but, at the same time, not to tumble over the edge into that chasm of let’s chase down our dreams with a sledgehammer.

No, actually, let’s not.  I am putting my sledgehammer down, thanks. I think I’ll go over in the corner and read a book because that is what I need right now.

This wasn’t the only motto-of-the-week I yanked off my wall. I also took down “What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?” by the American poet, Mary Oliver. A beautiful thought, isn’t it? But it just felt like too much pressure on a day to day basis. My wild and precious life consists of doing the dishes, the laundry and the groceries, of making meals, and doing a not-so-great job of housekeeping. I take care of my home and family in what can feel like mundane ways. Very not-wild, though decidedly precious.

But before relegating Mary Oliver’s words to the trash heap, I decided to look up the poem from which that line was taken and read it again. And I was struck humble. Put in its proper context what she’s actually saying isn’t go big or home, she’s saying be idle and blessed, pay attention to the miracle of everyday life. Period.

Oh.

See for yourself: The Summer Day. And yes, I did print out the whole poem and post it near my computer as a reminder. 

So let this be a lesson to me. I was drawn to Lama Marut’s book by that one full-assed line, by the humour and the energy. In the end, I didn’t buy the book, I just stole the slogan. And then it kicked me in the pants. So here’s what I ‘m going to do. I will add A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to Life to my wish list. I will read it by the end of the year. I will report back my findings. That’s the least I can do for a writer who taught me such a good lesson, even if it was entirely unintentional.

* For the record, I have listened to Lama Marut online, and he is not a bellicose American with a megaphone. To the contrary, what little I know of his work shows a  thoughtful soul with a helpful message. On the other hand, his website feels like six-ring circus act, so go figure. I suppose one now reaches for Marshall McLuhan, and wonders where the truth lies. We shall see.

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