page 135 discipline is not a lack of freedom

"Discipline is not a lack of freedom, it is a harmonious relationship with time." — Rick Rubin, The Creative Act, page 135

  • Oh dude. I don’t want to talk about this. It’s too much. Most of it boring. It may even involve daddy issues.

  • My dad was a larger than life force of nature. The man got shit done. I was raised by a frantic twitching over-achieving workaholic widower who got more things built, scrubbed, braised, invented, and maintained in a day than I do in, oh dear, possibly a week. When he died and I inherited his living room furniture it was brand new; the man did not sit down. Once he told me that he had a repeating nightmare that he was driving up an incline so steep that his truck was just about to fall backwards off it, forever, and I knew just what he meant because this is what if felt like to be near him.

  • That was my blueprint for discipline. Productive, panicked, respected by many, terrifying and exhausting to ride with in the passenger seat. I think we can safely say that 1. the outside world considered that to be discipline and 2. it does not sound like a harmonious relationship with time. Imagine my confusion.

  • When I try to treat my work and my days like a job everything fails. I build stiff cardboard, scared things that no one likes. I make lists and charts that feel, in the moment, like salvation. Then I collapse. That’s my trap. I set it, I get caught in it. I despair. I set myself free. I set it again, in a new place in higher grass. Eventually: SNAP. I’m an exceedingly strategic person who cannot follow a plan. Just this week I got stuck trying to ‘map out the year’ and my husband talked me down. He said “You’re jobbing it up. Don’t job it up. That doesn’t work.” I may have him write that down so it can go on our kitchen wall next to this:
    You're under no obligation to look like you're doing something.
  • Because he’s right. It never works. In the big picture that’s a blessing, right? I don’t want that to work. I would hate it. Because I do know what a harmonious relationship with time is. Guess what? It’s in my body, not my brain.

     It’s in my body, not my brain.
     It’s in my body, not my brain.
     It’s in my body, not my brain.

    It’s not linear. It’s not frantic. It’s curious, changeable, responsive. Sometimes, and okay I mean just now, it involves taking a break in the middle of writing this to rest my forehead on a freshly folded pile of warm t-shirts, letting them support my overworked bowling ball, while I listen to my own breath and the hum of the furnace blows warm air at my feet and next to me the cat is perched, watching squirrels out the window returning for treats they've kept stashed safely in our yard. And then I know how to proceed.

The Creative re-Action:

Responding to Rick Rubin's "The Creative Act"

Is just that. I open the book at random. I read a sentence. I respond to it.