Writing has stalled.
Lost in the wilderness.
The discipline is there, time in the saddle, words down each day but the fire in the line is missing. How to fix?
I got up from my desk, very slowly and very carefully so as not to disturb the references on my right, the notes and journals on the left, the correspondence behind me, the ideas and clippings behind me to the left, the recently read and waiting for review, the to-read, the not-sure pile and then finally the dog who had curled up on the stepping space. They used to be a path to the door but it had shrunk when I cleared some of the books out of the kitchen. The stovetop and the bathroom were the only places in the three bedroom house free of book piles due only to the unrelenting truth that fire and water remain the mortal enemies of paper.
I made a cuppa and sat on the back stairs as the couch was covered in magazines and papers and the dining table was hosting a long-term craft convention, complete with comparative pattern books and technique tomes. The dog sat in the sun in the yard and looked at me. I sipped and thought. Perhaps sometimes too much of a good thing is simply too much.
“Something has to go.” I said to the dog.
“Better not be me.” he replied and wandered off to sniff at some grass and see if the crows had dropped anything interesting from their headquarters.
I sipped on, realising that my bibliophilia had reached an unexpected crisis point. My hoards of books were suffocating the stories trying to come to life. It wasn’t just books stashed and crammed into the house until there was no room left for my heart to break but they were the most symbolic, they would be the hardest to release. Each one was a promise, a kiss, a call, and a friend. I believed in some deep and sad way that I would be irrevocably diminished in some ineffable but vital way without every single one of them and yet something really had to give and it had better not be me.
Starting over confronts me with the fears of not doing perfectly (or even well enough), the frustration of feeling “uninspiring” and the reality that with a full time job, community commitments, family and friends to stay in touch with, I’ve let my personal dreams get shuffled right to the bottom of the priority pile where they have cried themselves to sleep.
I started this blog the way some couples decide to have a baby – as a way to force things to be better – although there were lots and lots of much better reasons too! I was never going to admit that but in the spirit of radical transformation and honesty it seems that I won’t really be able to move forward with my creative pursuits until I get congruent with what is really going on.
Thinking about climbing a hill, planning the steps, hoping the sky will be blue, none of those things get us nearer to the view from the top. Putting one foot down in the right direction and then the next one and leaning into the wind and holding onto the hat. Dealing with the real hill.
That’s how to get to the views.
Have you ever put off answering your heart’s call? How did you start over?
In this time-poor age what gift is greater than attention?
I see people who struggle sometimes to pay attention to their own needs because they’re locked into an identity of serving others. And then there are so many who are in a cage of the cult of the self.
We all juggle a multiplicity of responsibilities, deadlines and practicalities and time for dreaming, for watching trees or clouds or listening to birds is a rarity.
What is it we yearn for? To matter to someone.
Today, if you can, carve out some time to let someone know that they matter to you. A friend will be delighted to receive the gift of some attention. Are you of a methodical bent or looking for a bigger win in spreading some joy? Today is a great day to start an eternal calendar for your friends’ birthdays. There is a special pleasure in confidently preparing a parcel for a friend and posting it or delivering it in time for their private special day. It is not about the money. It is about the attention.
You matter. If you’re not sure, let someone else know that they matter to you.
I hesitated for a while about this, thinking “keep it pure!” but passion comes in so many different guises that in the end I decided to honour one of mine here alongside Trojan Moments (typing ‘the book’ then was too sadly singular!) and load up the back issues of the newsletter Unchained. It is a darling of mine that I do not wish to kill, but that decision may well be out of my hands – the club will soon have a website and what need of a dino-letter when a fast paced digital mammal exists? Yes, I am aware of the irony re: Penny Farthing enthusiasts being mad-keen on teh interwebz. I would print this on a letterpress if I had one (hint to Santa). I digress. Six issues to date, all here now for ever, for you. Pure passion – pure Pennys.
Learning something just doesn’t work unless there’s a moment of surrender and I make or let myself say “I don’t know”. When I was a child I didn’t have this challenge. I expected that I didn’t know lots of things but as an adult, I am attached to the idea that I already know things, that I’m already good at some things.
Learning just feels like a lot of failures and plenty of frustrations and errors. That doesn’t feel great. “I don’t know” is a vulnerable place to be in our world of specialists and competition. I can see the value in it too. It is my ego that stops me from admitting I don’t know. My ego holds me back from the chance of learning!
When I reach the surrender of “I don’t know” then I know I am actually ready to learn. From that point, I am truly starting fresh. Then I just have to trust in the process and let the ‘failures’ and frustrations show me the way from there.