Who Ever Said Impulse Was An Enemy?

I have a confession to make:

I started letting other people tell me what to do again. What not to do. And how I should look. And what I should certainly believe. Oh, it's all good intentions at first. I scroll through a Facebook feed rife with insular, often privileged messages pasted over pretty photos, telling me exactly what's wrong with me, my work, my methods, my parenting, my social interaction, my politics and religion, my gut flora, and my heart.

Yes, my heart! No part of me is held sacred in the attack on individuality. As I can attest with my entire life history, gaining respect for the heart is a deep, deep struggle. Yet respect, care, and trust are what it needs to thrive. I could be literal here. I could be figurative. Take your pick. I have lots of personal experience with heart issues.

I'm done buying all these things that are making a big, giant hole in my well-being. I'm done buying that having a sensitive body and soul makes me weak, immature, or otherwise undesirably Other. I'm not done caring about being other-ed because everyone wants and deserves an equal participation in life and dignity and worth. That's not what the world looks like right now, and I'm sad to say that I have been complicit in upholding a narrative that erases the margins and the people in them. My eyes are slow to open, but my heart longs to embrace a change that is all-loving and all-inclusive. It's a goal I will continue to pursue with my energy.

I believe in following my heart. I believe there is value in being impulsive. (My inner critic says I should say something about discretion here, because my brain always puts up a big fight when it knows my words could get me into trouble.) I've let the impulse be trained out of me instead of tempered with wisdom. I saw it all as bad because the outcome was so unpredictable. When a person lives with anxiety, things that are unpredictable are always seen as the enemy.

But I started to get curious about my impulses. I started obeying them here or there. I started seeing more beauty, taking more photos, writing more poetry, and loving more and more of the world around me and the people in it. I started to remember that this is exactly how things were when I was a child, and it was good. I remember the good of it all.

As a result of last year's happiness chase, I have embraced the power of impulse when it comes to living. I see it as a catalyst for art and creativity. If an image calls out to me, I will stop, pay attention, and invest my energy into bringing forth life. It feels so foolish sometimes I almost skip it.

My brain says "Ha! That is a stupid poem. Nobody will take you seriously anymore."

And I say "Thank you, I'll keep that in mind."

But then I don't, because I have given myself permission to be foolish for the sake of art in whatever form it wishes to manifest.

I have spent too much time suppressing impulse, stifling feelings, telling myself there will be a more appropriate time to do what I love in the future. Self-editing to a fault creates stagnation. I have heard conflicting messages about the value of following the heart, as though such an experience could be universalized as all good or all bad. I don't know what the consensus will be on that, though when it all shakes down I know love will be there and my inner guide will be a home for it. So as I go, I'm making up my spontaneous art, in images, words and poetry because I believe the world will be better for it and it's how I choose to contribute.

I wish the whole world would stop worrying about image, controlling outcomes, and telling other people how to live our lives. At least long enough to experience the joy of just making things for the love of it. Don't you? What are you doing today that feels slightly foolish but desperately worthwhile because it is true to your values and essence?

Jamie Bagley