Very Well Right Where You Are
Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Stop Wearing Your Shoulders
"Stop wearing your shoulders like earrings." That's what my massage therapist told me many years ago. When our fight/flight response gets triggered, our muscles tense up pretty automatically. We stiffen our necks and hunch our shoulders. However, just as our brains send messages to our bodies (e.g., "danger ahead, tense up those muscles so you can fight or flee"), our bodies can also send messages to our brains (e.g., "it's okay, the danger is not immediate. See? I am relaxing"). And here's the cool thing--the brain seems to listen.
So, if you're wearing your shoulders like earrings...drop them down a little...see if you can relax a bit. Then take a minute to get a heating pad, or one of those rice-filled bags you can heat in the microwave. Ahhhhhh.... Your body and your brain will thank you.
This tool is from the fifth Toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
Very Well Right Where You Are
I was lying in bed the other morning, half-awake, riffing through some all too common negative themes concerning my writing and myself as a writer: Do I have anything to say that anyone wants to hear? Is my writing any good? Why am I so terrified of rejection? Why have I let those fears run me for so long? Why do I have so much trouble setting up even a very loose rhythm of writing most days? Shouldn't I be pushing myself more?
Within a few seconds, but oh so quietly and undramatically, an image of a nondescript book slipped into my semi-conscious brain. It was open to blank pages, with a focus on the left hand (or verso) page. This was followed by a slightly shadowy sense of the poet Robert Frost, followed by the number "78." It was all rather low key.
"This is a bit odd," I thought, somewhat skeptically. "I wonder...if I go get my book of Frost's poems will I find anything helpful on page 78 and/or on the left-hand side of that spread of pages? Or is this my mind just grasping at straws?"
So I went and looked.
Just below the middle of page 78, three lines stood out immediately:
You will do very well right where you are
A little longer. I mustn't feel too hurried
Or I can't give myself to hear the voices.
Wow. I would say the glove fits (ignoring the change from first person to second): Be where you are as a writer. A little longer. There are voices to hear but don't try to force them. Yes. I get it. Thank you!
Those lines, it turned out, were near the end of an eight-page, somewhat obscure but slightly odd (though to me interesting) poem called "The Generations of Men." I don't remember ever seeing it before. It is about a young woman and a young man who meet unexpectedly for the first time at the cellar hole of an old house originally built by someone who was a common ancestor. They flirt and tease a little, playfully (and ironically) challenging each other to listen for the voices of the past. And that's where these lines come in.
Of course, you can pick my experience to pieces logically if you want to. I'm choosing to take it as a gift.
But where did this strange demi-vision come from? Perhaps from an old cellar hole, where treasure can lie buried for decades, even centuries, in the sediment of the forest.
Perhaps from the same place that stories, poems and paintings themselves seem to arise--those deep, strange and labyrinthine parts of ourselves. Places where the creator in ourselves is linked in some inexplicable way to the Mysterious Source, the Creator--or Creation Itself--in the very act of creating. Of course you have to work at it, and you work with the inspiration. Then your creation becomes a child born of the marriage between you and Mystery.
Most writers will tell you that when they are surrendered and "in the flow" the stories and the characters often surprise them. Of course we need to keep putting our bottoms on the chair, or our hands to the keys of the flute and actually write (or draw or play) for this to happen. But often what comes out is not what we consciously thought we were inventing. We don't quite know where it is coming from. And that is an amazing experience.
Here's Paul McCartney (Paul McCartney of all people!) on songwriting: "I don't know how to do this. You would think I do, but it's not one of those things you ever know how to do."
But you keep doing it because it is a gift. Or because you feel driven. Or called. Or because you've been invited to try to translate some tiny, tiny piece of the universe into something humans can touch and taste and maybe even feel. Because, though it can be very hard work, it can also be powerful and incredibly fulfilling.
This experience is possible, I believe, for all human beings. We don't need to be a Paul McCartney, or an Ursula LeGuin--or Picasso or Georgia O'Keeffe or Tolkien--to allow the call of creation to tickle our souls.
Just give it a little unhurried try.
You will do very well right where you are.
Until next time,
Sleeping cat, Victoria Tromina, unSplash
Cellar hole, Heavy Metal Nut, Metal Detecting Forum
Dream-woman, Medical News Today
The writer at work, Lawrence Walkin