Last year at this time I moved to Italy with my family. It was amazing and horrifying. I brought a few freelance clients who agreed to work remotely. About one month into our time away one of my projects got quiet and the other project had a staff change where we decided not to transfer my contract.
So I was suddenly free from work for a few months. More horror.
What would I do? I had been counting on the income. I had been counting on the stuff to keep my mind busy. I had been counting on the continuity with home to ease my transition back after our year away. I had been counting on feeling ‘normal’ so that I wouldn’t notice I was changing everything. Who would I be without my work?
That night I met a wonderful new friend at dinner. She asked me how things were going and how we were settling in. I told her I was worried about not having any work to do.
For a few months. In Rome.
When my family was busy with their school/projects.
She looked at me like I was insane. Then she asked me this question that I have been wondering about for the twelve months since:
“What if your only assignment is pleasure?”
It seemed totally radical and felt just wrong. I was so habituated towards feeling worthy and good and important and helpful. I didn’t think I had worked hard enough to rest yet. I didn’t think I had earned it, it wasn’t MY work that got us to go on this trip. I believe deeply that I have been lucky in my life, so I should immediately and always be working on behalf of others. Who did I think I was to enjoy myself?
Underneath all that I realized: I didn’t think I deserved pleasure.
Now when I say pleasure – I’m not talking about hedonism or greed. I’m talking about ease, joy, time and freedom to listen to your heart. To trust the universe as innately good and trust yourself as an intricate part of that universe. What happens when you have permission to relax into that? What happens when you do things just because they bring you joy? What happens when you notice how simple and beautiful things are around you? What happens when you drop the struggle and the urgency?
What if YOUR only assignment is pleasure?