“You’re just scared.” With her trademark high-pitched giggle, a gentle hug, and a warm smile, country music legend Dolly Parton soothed Stephen Colbert as he displayed a rare moment of vulnerability. As one icon calmed another, they eventually performed their duet together.
After a “busy” day at the spa, I caught up on Colbert episodes in the evening, and Dolly’s presence brought back warm memories. My parents were country music fans, and I saw Dolly in concert at least twice, maybe more. When Dolly sat onstage alone with her guitar singing “mountain songs” of her childhood, such as Coat of Many Colors, that younger version of myself longed to write with that kind of simple beauty.
Oh, yeah, that…the songwriters of my youth pointed the way to my own love affair with words. Somewhere in the hassles of daily life, I had forgotten.
This week I have busied myself with stripping layers of tension and stress away, and what has remained? That which was already there. I have a plethora of tools at my disposal to help me navigate life’s stresses, but I sometimes forget what I already know. Slowing down, taking a break, has allowed me to say, “Oh, wait, I could do that…I could try this…”
Truth is, I had let the fears and anxieties take over. And yes, I had to admit, I uncovered some anger, too. I had allowed the behavior of a few thoughtless people to disrupt my zen. Upon further examination, perhaps I allowed them to do so because of the fears…my anger emerged because yet again, I had held myself back.
After lunch I felt some agitation again, just a day after spending hours in the spa. Some of life’s troubles had revisited and were churning inside me once again. I wandered over to the pool and alternated laps with dips in the hot tub, feeling my strength in the water with each stroke, grateful for the power of a healthy body. Once I had that “good tired” feeling, I went back to my room.
I had forgotten that according to Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, water calms my fiery “pitta” nature. Later, while doing a specific yoga practice aimed at calming pitta, I was reminded of that and much more.
This week I have remembered that when I get into trouble with writing, I can always return to The Artist’s Way. Usually it takes just a few exercises in the book to get me jump-started again. I logged in to Julia Cameron Live and let her remind me, with her patient teacher’s voice, of what I had first learned from her more than fifteen years ago.
I also remembered that I can use yoga as therapy to quiet my inner storms and fears. Sure, I planned to meditate, but I’m someone who needs physical movement to really let go. As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, My Yoga Online is a great resource for videos, and I am using it extensively during this retreat week. (If anyone wants a two-week trial, let me know, and I’ll set you up.)
I had forgotten that for me, whatever the problem, writing is the cure. When I write, I am a happier person. Period. So I will keep writing, even if I feel like I’m talking in an (almost) empty room.
I had forgotten that even though we live in Paradise, we need a vacation now and then…and my sojourn on the sofa this summer while I waited to resolve medical difficulties doesn’t count. I was too tired then to do anything but catch up on every season of How I Met Your Mother. I needed solitude away from the house in which there are always rooms to clean and meals to cook.
Reading a novel this week, with great subject matter but unfortunate editing, I remembered that our work can be good without being perfect. While I want to create quality work, sometimes it’s just time to put the darn thing out there. I have good work worth finishing, and it’s time to get to it.
Mostly, I had forgotten that I’m a better writer when I see it as an adventure. The “get your butt in the chair” advice doesn’t work for me. Yeah, it appeals to that internal critic and editor, but for making new work, it needs to feel like I’m making mud pies. I need to be the small child who doesn’t care if her clothes get dirty, and allow myself to get lost in the exploration, the play. Early drafts are muddy and messy anyway. Why not just plop myself down and revel in it?
As I go forward, I hope I will also remember the moment of Stephen Colbert’s naked struggle as he sat next to his idol with guitar in hand, strumming along and harmonizing as best he could. He’s just scared. And so am I. And that’s just fine…I can find my way through my song, too.