I've been thinking a lot about intention in the past year. I think about it each morning as I lie comfortable and warm for the last five minutes before getting out of bed, trying to set my intention for the day I am about to dive into. I think about it each time I step onto my yoga mat, or as I leave my house to take a walk around the block, or when I reach out to an old companion that I feel like I should spend some time with. I even thought of it when sitting down to write today.
I do it as a way to think about why I spend the time doing the things in my day. This covers everything from the large big-picture things down to the very small seemingly insignificant things. I think this helps me from just blindly skipping through my days with absolutely zero direction. And while I think there is a time and place for blind directionless skipping (really, I do), I think most of the time, some intention is important.
I've also been thinking a lot about action. Actions to me are a lot more up front in their execution, but at the same time, a lot more abstract with their origin than intentions seem to be. Because sometimes their origins are, in fact, our intentions that we have set behind them. But sometimes they come from selfishness, from confusion, from all those other scary emotional things that are a little hidden and tend sneak up and surprise us when we aren't expecting.
Lately I read something somewhere (I need to get better at remembering these things) that said,
"Our intentions don't mean anything."
Being someone who used that daily setting of intention as the thing that got me up and moving most mornings, this was a little bit of a blow. I took it pretty personally.
But then once I spent some time thinking on it, I realized that sentiment was absolutely right. Our intentions don't mean shit. Unless we very deliberately attach our actions to them.
I can talk until I'm blue in the face about how I want to support myself in life as an artist, or how important I think it is to make compassionate and ethical lifestyle choices, or how much I want to see the California Red Woods sometime before I die.
But until I just shut up and pick up my guitar or my sketchbook or my camera, or decide to do all the annoying grown-up things that come along with being a self-employed artist, the ones that no one tells you about when you commit to a few thousand dollars of college student loans (that in itself being one of them!!), my intentions aren't going to turn into a magic carpet that will float me off into artsy dream land where everything is rainbows and sunshine and where film cameras grow on trees and the streams are filled with oil paints and the clouds are really just empty canvases begging you to spill out your imagination!! Anyone who is actively making and doing and living art 40 hours a week will tell you that. (Note to self to write about how important it is to keep other creators in your life and very close to you.)
So while I still think that having those intentions to start is incredibly important, if I never act on them I'm never going to live out any of the things that I spend so much time laying out in front of me in the first place. But I make an effort to take action every day, no matter how big or small, to fulfill those intentions.
I do the hard work to get to things that are good for me. I get out of bed and take a walk around the block with my camera. I spend the extra half hour cooking myself breakfast. And a few weeks ago, I pushed past the scariness of big decisions and bought a plane ticket that is going to get me to the Pacific coast where I'll get to jump in the ocean and see old friends and camp among the California Redwoods.