Just a note about the way Life Is a Verb is structured before I get to the heart of things: author Digh (pronounced dye) offers both actions, to be undertaken immediately after reading a story about the day’s topic, and movements, which stretch out over a 37-day period, and which are designed to reinforce the concepts and practices Digh believes essential to intentional living. I will be undertaking both.
Most actions are short ten minute or so writings—scribblings, really, stream-of-consciousness stuff. You put pen to paper and let it rip, no stopping to think, to correct errors (oh no!), no carefully constructed sentences. Movements vary, but I will note which ones I’m doing, as well as how I’m doing.
Day one: Today it’s all about joy. Well, last night was, when I did the reading and action. Digh related a story about seeing a woman—large, round-faced, with flappy arms—in a car ahead of her at a stoplight. The first thing Digh noticed was the car rocking from side to side. Then she saw the driver bopping to the beat of the radio, and she was really getting into it—mouth wide open as she sang along, head rolling, shoulders in motion, jazz hands—and the driver didn’t seem to care one bit who might be watching. Digh watched for some time before seeing, in the backseat, smaller hands moving in time with the driver’s. It was car dancing, and it was pure joy.
My action challenge— to dance. For two whole minutes.
Wait—me? Dance? Um, I can’t. Really.
Blame it on my strict Baptist upbringing or my total lack of physical grace, but I can’t do it. I can fling myself around more or less in time with the music, but it ain’t dancing.
I did it anyway, to I’m a Believer by the Monkees, and for two minutes and 35 seconds. Hey, I’m an overachiever. An overachiever believer.
I danced, and it was bad.
My cat left the room.
I must have looked a lot like the woman Digh saw, minus the car and the tiny passenger in the backseat.
But you know what? It felt kind of—good. Almost joyous. I liked it.
It reminded me of something I stumbled across waaaay back in 2006 the first time I worked on getting my sass. SARK wrote:
Doing things badly
One of the most inhibiting factors for creative dream living is how we think we need to do something well, or perfectly to begin it.
Then, because of those thoughts, there are so many creative dreams we don’t even attempt!
Give yourself permission
to do something badly.
What could it be?
How badly could you do it?
I walked back then for exercise and wellbeing, miles and miles, but on those days I couldn’t get out, because it was raining or too hot and humid, I’d turn on the radio and dance. I journaled about it on July 3:
I danced. I suck.
And it was a joyous experience. For 45 minutes or so, I wiggled and shook and shimmied and swayed and I put my hands in the air like I just didn’t care.
And I didn’t.
I flailed myself around in a semi-rhythmic fashion, I played rock star, I fantasized, and I had one of the best nights I’ve had in a very, very long time.
It was great!
I shook my groove thang and imagined fat cells just flying off me. There they go—bye bye!
I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago.
But that’s a lie—I didn’t have permission to do it.
Now that I do, now that I feel the joyful after-effects, I’m gonna dance, and I’m gonna suck, and I’m going to do it with PASSION.
Well. That didn’t happen because somewhere along the line I lost my permission slip, but I’m forging a new one. Let joy be unconfined.