November 2, 2015

The One Word We Must Say to Reclaim our Lives.



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The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” ~ Lin Yutang

It’s not every day that we’re granted one extra hour of time. This is an annual gift to be cherished, and I actually prefer this to Christmas. Because no matter how good you’ve been, Santa won’t give you extra time.

So what about the rest of the 364 days? Don’t have time? Then it’s time to say “no.”

Saying “no” is the only way to reclaim your life, and your time.

I do a “seasonal cleanse” to re-evaluate my priorities, analyze how my time is spent, and reconsider my lists of “Yes” and “No.”

Sometimes it’s scary, oftentimes I upset a lot of people. I’ve never been a people pleaser, and I’m not sorry.

It’s time we get out of our heads. We have two hands—one hand to stop and say no; the other to remain open and say yes.

Four Septembers ago, I moved to New York City, in order to, as Joseph Campbell once said:

“…give up the life [I] planned in order to have the life that is waiting for [me].”

Well…everything in moderation. Even for Joseph Campbell, whose mindwaves were coloured by mythology.

Repeat until something changes.
Repeat for four years and then some.

Acting school, notably, my wonderful improv coaches, have drilled me to say yes to almost anything. “…and then a dinosaur jumped out of the woods.” “Yes!” Crazier narratives have unfolded, and ever the poster student, I took this rule, and applied it to everything—dangerously without discrimination. The prolific results became, of course, fertile grounds of material for Meisner classes, as well as overwhelming fortification of my monstrous tear-ducts. Everything just feeds into one another. Tears are cleansing, too.

“Repeat until something changes.

Ever late to the party, it was only a couple months ago, did I realize that while saying yes—the way we’re trained as artists, makes us terrific partners under imaginary circumstances, yet in the real world, we are stung by our own kindness, and just become:

A) gophers who would take sh*t from those whom we mistakenly allow into our lives, and
B) bitches who would do anything.

The intention to be open to the world, without due diligent attention to where and whom we are giving our life, could derail us, destroy us. Saying yes could become self-sabotaging. Everything in moderation.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

The holiday season assaults us with commercialism on steroids. Markets operate on dollars, but we operate on life. You can’t price-tag value… You can’t buy worthiness. Worth doesn’t go on sale. The most valuable present is your time and presence.

So, here are my two cents worth of notes-to-self, to share:

1) Listen, because we have double the listening faculties as we do with speaking. Listen to yourself; listen to your thoughts; listen to your closest ones; listen to what’s hard to hear; listen to your dreams; listen to your deepest desires, and deepest fears; listen to what scares you… Don’t believe in the praise; don’t believe in the sweet talk; don’t succumb to the noise, and don’t dwell on a liar’s promise.

2) Create in the imagined world, far, far away from and beyond the Starbucks world, in which we live. Yet, beauty remains in the options and pursuit of better beans. Re-evaluate priorities, analyze how time is spent. I once came across a quote that read, “You value what you spent time on,” which stopped me like a red light. What we value, is shown by what we dedicate time towards. If we discover that what we’re working on is not worth our life, then we’re onto something. We own our time. We own our life. We shouldn’t so easily and freely volunteer that away.

3) Say no, because the above already adds to two-hands full.

One extra hour to celebrate with a glass of grapes, caffeinated beans, and something sharp with raw ginger. Celebrate over music and prayer… the kind of embrace of a Scholar, Emperor, and Military Leader. J.Campbell, your myths don’t burn me anymore.

Sunday, you’ll forgive me that my “No” hand is out for the rest of the day, while my “Yes” hand will be carrying my favourite bottle of grapes, and open to the company of my choosing. If you need me, send carrier pigeons. I yoga daily on my rooftop.



The Space for Yoga doesn’t replace the Space for “F*ck You.


Author: Xiren Wang

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Courtesy of the Author

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