As predicted, I ate my words today. Just a little bit.
The second session was more practical, which was something like a balm for my skeptics heart. She encouraged me (everyone) to make a list of the things you gotta do to make your life run smoothly, then she had me (us) parse them out into categories of "gives me life" and "makes me dead".
I did that, and basically realized I need to hire someone to manage my life while I make art, which is totally doable, right?
She also said something that bounced around in my brain for a long while, so I want to throw it at you, just to see what happens. She said: "Easy is productive. With less friction, there is greater velocity."
Is that true? It sounds a little true. It also sounds like a cop-out.
What does easy mean? I think we have to start there. Danielle describes two different kinds of easy: Cheap Easy and Quality Easy. In the context of TFSS, she's pushing for quality easy, which she briefly defines as: saying yes to the natural flow of life; casting your seeds on the most fertile soil; choosing your inner rhythms over external pressure.
As always, I'm measuring these lovely concepts against cold, hard reality. (I don't actually believe reality is cold and hard, it just sounds dramatic and I like it.)
So let's take marriage for example. Marriage is simultaneously the easiest and most difficult thing. For me, being with Matt is like breathing. It's laid-back. I feel known by him in ways I don't feel known by anyone else. It's easy for me to be myself around him; my very truest, weirdest, most inappropriate self.
Being with Matt is also like burning myself alive or turning to stone from the inside out, fighting to keep a fleshy heart. It is like grinding gears. It's like so many dead ends I'm sure there actually isn't a road that leads out of the mess.
Marriage is easy and hard. But what does that mean in the context of the idea we're fidgeting around with? When things are hard, do I just drop it and walk away to find something easier to do? Do I look for the path of least resistance? If I do that, what happens? Divorce? Conflict avoidance? Netflix binging? Better communication? Kinder, more respectful disagreements?
I think it's important to define what it means to do the easy thing.
That's where "cheap" easy and "quality" easy come in. "Cheap easy" is a slimy thing; the thing people do when they want to cut corners, be lazy, and not put their all into life.
Cheap easy tunes out. It avoids growth because growing hurts, it avoids depth because depth requires work, and it avoids conflict because conflict is never easy.
Quality easy tunes in. It presses into growth because the natural rhythm of life is to grow. It leans into conflict with grace because conflict, when done well, is what builds character. It begs for depth because depth is where the current moves most powerfully.
For my brain to wrap around this, I think it's helpful to see "quality easy" as this: doing things with highest ease.
"Easy" and "with ease" are technically the same, but it switches a paradigm for me. Instead of feeling like a cop-out, suddenly "easy" feels a lot like grace and elegance. It feels like peace.
When marriage becomes difficult, the answer isn't to "take the easy way out" in the traditional sense. It is to choose love in a way that feels full of ease; to navigate the path that feels most aligned with our inner rhythms.
Since we're getting a little esoteric here, I'll bring it back down and role-play it out.
Scene 1. Enter: husband and wife.
Wife wants to get rid of TV. Husband wants to keep it. Wife thinks it's ugly and argues that they never use it anyway. In a rapid string of events, husband accuses wife of wanting to take control. Wife accuses husband of being explosive. TV ends up on floor in the corner while husband and wife angry-text each other why i'm-right-you're-wrong from the other room. They don't talk the next day. Soon, it comes time to settle things.
What does it mean to navigate this (totally hypothetical) situation with ease?
It's not what one might traditionally think. If we were talking about cheap easy, "Taking the easy way out" could look like avoiding conflict altogether for the sake of "harmony". It could look like shutting each other out emotionally to spare hurt feelings. It could look like caving in on your values simply to restore happiness, even though you're actually bitter about the whole debacle.
To navigate things with ease, however:
Take a deep breath. Let go of the right-and-wrong paradigm. Humble yourself. Understand that your spouse has values and desires too, and that doesn't make them the enemy. Remember they are not trying to hurt you. They want to feel seen and heard, just as you have the desire to feel seen and heard. As much as it hurts, resist the urge to push your arguments and "prove your point". Instead, listen. Find ease. The first duty of love is to listen. This will feel like nails on bones if you aren't used to empathic communication, but it will be in flow with the natural rhythm of love. Listen, speak kindly, and communicate what you want. Decide together that the TV fits nicely downstairs in the office. Grab one corner each to relocate it where it belongs.
That is finding ease.
Moving in natural flow.
At home with your own rhythm.