Guest Writer for Wake Up World
I think everyone is different, so I don’t feel I can generalize that one can or cannot live an unstructured life and be successful.
That said, I can speak from my experience:
First, know that Freedom is a primary value of mine. I so appreciate the freedom I have in my life to live where and how I want to. Sometimes I marvel at the freedom and goodness I am blessed with:
- I can walk in the mountains.
- I have the simple freedom of a healthy, flexible, perfectly formed, pain-free body.
- I can go to sleep when I like and wake up when I naturally do.
- I can eat a variety of foods.
- I can decide how my day goes, which activities I choose.
- I can live quite easily without a car.
These are just a few of the simple freedoms in the life I’ve created for myself.
I mentioned Freedom because to my mind, to be Free means I can flow as I like, do what I want when I like, have no plans, just BE. Implicit in this desire, which comes occasionally, is living without structure.
Living without Structure
I have realized, repeatedly, first-hand, however, that following that desire does not serve me well.
When I allow myself to simply flow without any structure, I find I soon feel depressed, or at least less happy.
Time and life extends too far out in front of me and I feel groundless.
Groundlessness is uncomfortable for me, and ultimately leads to dissatisfaction with myself, my life, my day – rather than feeling the satisfaction and connection with “who I really am” and the “universe” if I were to flow without any structure whatsoever.
It actually makes me feel weepy right now, just thinking of it.
So, as much as I understand and even crave structurelessness, it doesn’t really serve me and so I have learned to avoid that calling into the void.
Middle Way Solutions to Structurelessness
The recognition I have around my need for structure does not mean, on the other hand, that living in a completely structured manner is required for peace, satisfaction and “success.” (Defining success is another large and important topic.)
Depending on what I have going on in my life, structure can look differently.
If I have a work commitment the next day, there is a list of tasks I must accomplish before I get tired the night prior, in order to be successful with my chosen work and those I serve through it. In that case, structure is necessary on a practical and functional level.
Of course, the responsibilities I have created or taken on for myself if not respected and tended to with some structure, will lead to emotional and spiritual dissatisfaction or “failure” as well. In other words, structure is not just a practical and functional issue.
Flexibility within Structure
My days are usually filled with lists ranging from minimal (rarely,) to long (frequent) as I am a creative person with many interests and activities whose diversity I thrive on.
I have found that making a list for the day is key to my peace of mind, first of all.
If I’m in bed at night and suddenly remember or think of two things I need to remember to do the next day, I run downstairs and add it to my list, even at the risk of rising myself out of my sleepy state. Why? Because if I don’t write it down on the official list right then, my mind will be keep repeating the words all night long so that I don’t forget – thus guaranteeing a less than restful night.
My lists usually don’t have times on them, unless I have a time-related commitment, in which case I work the other items on the list around the scheduled one.
I don’t feel the need to put a time on each item. I trust myself to get them done, or do the best I can.
I like the flexibility this timelessness gives me. It allows me to tend to what feels either more urgent or more pleasant, or less stressful, or most stressful – as I feel moved.
Sometimes I push myself to finish the more scary task(s) first, to get them out of the way. What a relief that can be! Check it off my list and move on! Also, I often realize with this strategy that what I thought I couldn’t handle, was indeed not as big a deal as I thought. I was and am more capable than my fear was leading me to believe.
Other days, like today, I decide to ease gently into the list of tasks, and start with the more mindless ones. I still get it all done, but in a different order.
It all works and it’s all good.
Final Admission About Me and Structurelessness
Over fourteen years ago, I left my life in the States and moved to a rural traditional village in Mexico. It was a calling, literally, and a precious time of giving myself the gift of time and freedom. The kind of freedom with zero obligations to anyone or anything.
I lived this way for three years, until the money from the sale of my house ran out.
During this time, I learned the priceless value of following my heart, listening to myself, doing what I love, following my desires and that Flow I talked about at the beginning of this post.
The experience changed my life. Through it, I remedied or redeemed the fact of having lived so much of my life doing what I didn’t want to do. Something that, speaking of “success” made me feel specifically not successful as the human being I am.
I spent most of my adult life angry and non-forgiving of myself for my perceived wastage of time and my life.
As I say in my memoir, Calling Myself Home: Living Simply, Following Your Heart and What Happens When You Jump, “My daily worry was that I would miss my life. That I was missing my life.”
Moving to Mexico and doing exactly what I wanted when I wanted for those three years, showed me the value of that. It wasn’t for forever. It had it’s season. But I carry the learnings with me into my life where I am now and intentional living coach and teacher, helping others follow their dreams and hearts, so that they live their most fulfilling, satisfying and “successful” lives.
For me, at this stage of my life, structure with flexibility keeps me grounded and so much happier than pure free flow.
I still do what I want and follow my heart’s desires, but within a container that holds and carries me to a successful life as defined by and for myself.
Originally published at Take Good Care of You Wellness and reproduced here with permission.
Also by Robin Rainbow Gate:
- Outrageousness at Midlife and Beyond: Creative Dissonance and Your Inner Hag
- When Mothers Forgive Themselves: Tips for Adult Daughters on Not Getting What You (Still!) Want
- Healing Your Relationship with Winter…and All That It Implies
- Home Decoration, Altars and Magic: 8 Steps to Beautifying Your Home While Attracting What You Value, Appreciate and Desire
About the author:
Robin Rainbow Gate was born in Chicago to a family of artists. Along the way, she lived in England, India and Kentucky. Since 2006 Robin has lived in an indigenous mountain village in Mexico where she learned from elder teachers and traditional healers. She teaches authentic Indian cuisine, is author of Calling Myself Home: Living Simply, Following Your Heart and
What Happens When You Jump, is an intentional living guide and teacher who writes and coaches to midlife women seeking to experience a soulful, connected life of self-care, listening, honoring and respect – with focus on simple living, nature, and care of the earth.