Sunday, October 16, 2011

Enjoying the journey

For most of my life I’ve been a results-focused person. One of those “are we there yet?” types, who is all about the destination, not the journey. Stopping to smell the roses fills me with impatience and makes me worry that I’m wasting time on unproductive self-indulgence. I struggle to embrace the joy of the moment without anxiously wondering if it’s going to advance my career or teach my kids some valuable lesson; whether my investment in this particular activity will build and shape me as a person. I watch people who are pursuing some activity just for fun, and feel a kind of pathetic, wistful envy. Somewhere along the line my strong work ethic raged out of control, strangling my feeble sense of fun, beating into submission my ability to enjoy leisurely pursuits.

You will be relieved to hear that there is hope for me yet. Lately, I have been trying to calm down a bit; to restrain my work ethic long enough to hear what my poor beaten-down impulse for fun and enjoyment has to say for itself. I have – gasp – started allowing myself to do things just because I want to. 

Just the other day I undertook an activity that was voluntary, time-consuming, and without any higher purpose. I turned my daughter into her hero, Ahsoka Tano from Clone Wars.

My 6-year-old had been invited to a friend’s Star Wars birthday party. It was, of course, a costume party. Shops sell any number of Darth Vader/Clone Trooper/Anakin Skywalker costumes, but there was no way Miss 6 was dressing up as a boy. Suddenly, I heard myself say, “Why don’t we try to make you a costume?” Even more surprisingly, I found that I was quite excited about the idea - even when Miss 6 announced, eyes shining, that she wanted to be Ahsoka.

For the uninitiated, this is what Ahsoka Tano looks like:

“Holy crap!” you might say (I know I did). I knew from the outset that my creative skills (not to mention my sewing skills) would be stretched to their limits, and I wasn’t wrong. However, I felt an uncharacteristic lack of panic in the face of this creative challenge. I felt energized. Happy, even! I gave it a bit of thought. I gathered old tights, an old brown t-shirt, felt, pipe cleaners, face paint. I put my almost-forgotten back-stitch into action. Several times I changed my design plan when it became clear that things were headed south.  I spent an inordinately long time on this costume, and in what was a big revelation to me, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process – much more than I’d expected.

And finally, it was finished:

I know, I know. I’m not about to score any contracts from ToysRUs. The head-dress isn’t quite right, and neither is the belt, and if this photo was a bit bigger you'd be able to see the messy stitching, plain as day.

None of that matters.

Miss 6 was absolutely delighted, and so was I! I had done something I didn’t know I could do, and the result was (I think) at least passable – but here’s what really surprised me most – for once in my life, the quality of the result honestly didn’t matter all that much to me. I had allowed myself to do something just for the joy of doing it.

Finally, I have started to get a glimmer of understanding about enjoying the journey. There may be hope for me yet.


  1. You take the best mum award from me! I think its spectacular! I wouldnt attempt anything even simple so this is way impressive!

  2. aw, you are too kind! - but believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. Spending many hours making a Star Wars costume might not be other people's idea of a good time, though...

  3. :) great stuff!! go have some more mindless fun!

  4. That. Is. Amazing. My 7 year old loves the Clone Wars and I can imagine her asking for something like this. I would scream in terror at the very thought of having to even think about making something like this. Really fantastic, honestly.

    And thank you for linking up with #MedalMonday. It may be coming your way this week!

  5. Frontline Parents, thanks so much for the kind words! I have to say, though, this whole experience really taught me that fear and self-doubt are the only things that hold us back. In making this costume, I truly surprised myself, because I would never in a million years have believed I could make a reasonably-passable Clone Wars outfit. It just goes to show that if you jump in and have a go, and focus on enjoying the process rather than stressing about the result, sometimes things work out a whole lot better than you would ever have expected!
    At the same time, I am hoping that my daughter doesn't beg for a Darth Vader or General Grievous costume any time soon...!