I wrote a few weeks ago about how Joseph and I are keeping our shared projects organized. This time I wanted to write about something that’s often harder for us: staying engaged with the projects we are working on separately.
It is easy to prioritize the things that we are working on together–someone else is counting on it and it’s fun to discuss and update. Even right at this moment I have prioritized writing for our shared website. It just feels more urgent. We know we need to carve out time for our own personal practices and work, but those are often the realms that fall off the bottom of the list. I’ve noticed this before when trying to juggle shared work and individual work. The shared work has a denser gravitational pull.
The gravity seems to be even stronger when the person I’m sharing the project with is Joseph, my love and partner. Joseph and I have been together for more than a year-and-a-half now. It feels like we’ve been together for a long time, but really we are still early in our journey of negotiating which life spaces we share, and which paths we each need to walk on our own. We are each learning how to be ourselves and be together, even while those selves are growing, and are changing in response to the life we are building together.
One little piece we’ve been experimenting with lately is getting up earlier and keeping a “noble silence” for the first two hours that we are awake. The term “noble silence” comes from the Zen Center where we both studied. It’s is a way of protecting an inward-facing experience, even when you are with a group of people. During the monastic practice period much of the day is spent in noble silence–no checking-in with your roommate or chatting with a friend over tea. I actually found it the opposite of restrictive–it was freeing not to have to make conversation or to process events out loud. I could just settle into my own unmediated experience.
During our morning silent period now, we try not to interact, and we each do whatever we need to–whether stretching, meditating, writing, studying, planning, researching. Actually, I’m not sure exactly what Joseph is working on (and maybe he’ll post about that soon!), because we are using privacy to protect the creative space of our mornings. I’ve been working on getting clear on my new offer (see more about Sarah).
This noble silence is useful now, while we are sharing a space and projects, and I think it will only become more useful when we are sharing an even smaller (tiny house!) space. Being able to be in the same space together without always interacting seems like a useful tool in our… how-we-are-together tool belt.
Even though we both know it is important, it’s so easy to skip the morning silent time. Other more tangible tasks are written on our window to-do list. And sleeping in is pretty nice too. We usually only manage it about half the days of the week, and haven’t fit in a full two-hour period for a while now–even though we know it’s one of the supports that makes the rest of the projects possible! After writing about publicly I hope we’ll be ever more compelled to actually do the practice more often…like maybe every day.
How do you make sure to prioritize the things that may not feel urgent but are actually important? When you’re working closely with another person (especially a partner), how do you also keep your individual journey going? I’d love to hear any of your reflections in the Comments.