Who is Showing Up To Write?
Day Six of 30 Days of Writing: Write Yourself Alive
In a TED talk, author, Elizabeth Gilbert tells of a poet who, when inspiration struck, would run from the fields to find pencil and paper before the words of the poem were gone forever. Sometimes, she would get to the table just in time to snag the last line and work her way backwards to the beginning. It’s a stunning image of how the muses toy with us.
As we share our writing discipline through this 30 day challenge, we alternately face the blank page or fear the splotches of red on white if we really let it all out in a emotional haemorrhage. Inspiration strikes at odd times and doesn’t always play nice with our sleep habits. At about three AM my mind woke up my body wondering what I would write about when I put myself in front of my keyboard. Yesterday it was about mundane things like water heaters and egg yolks. My mind thought I could be much more clever than that today and began a flurry of random suggestions. About three hours worth.
Of all the the spillage from my little brain into the wakeful night, the most constructive was the memory that, two days ago, I had left the roasting pan in the oven with water soaking off the bits from roasting peppers and tomatoes. At the time I asked Athan to remind me so that next time I used the oven, I wouldn’t find some unsavoury stew. He forgot. And as my mind tripped over this and that, every so often – the repeat reminder about the roasting pan. Would I forget again? Should I get up and put a sticky note on the range hood? I reasoned I couldn’t take it out with a clatter at that hour without waking Athan. And then back to suggestions, silly and profound, that I might develop for my sixth day writing piece.
Is this inspiration? I think not. And I think we confuse our mind’s offerings with our soul’s. The mind competes with the soul in sibling rivalry that is relentless. As Andréa commented we are married body mind and spirit until death do us part. Sometimes it is a dysfunctional marriage. Its not about winning but about integrating. As long as we stay distracted by the histrionics of our attention seeking mind, we fail to be comforted by the soothing of our soul.
I think we mistake the pain and suffering our mind informs us of for the trials and awareness gained by the soul in evolution. The mind is relentless in its lists. What about this? What about that? For those hours of flipping from stomach to side to back to side, fluff the pillow, roll the pillow, listen to the rain, smile at the thunder, waiting waiting for my mind to quiet to let my body rest again. I am kept stimulated by the utter urgency of all this nonsense. As night became day and Athan got up and quietly closed the door, I pulled my little piece of black velour over my eyes and drifted off, exhausted by the night pacing with my mind.
I have come to my writing this morning… finally. The thunderstorm of the night has polished the sky and the sea is almost sapphire. And I want to offer this. It is easier to write from the body than from the mind. Why? Because the body whispers of what it likes. What feels good – cashmere. What smells good – rain in spring. What sounds good – your name spoken by someone who loves you. I think when we get fed up with the litany of sufferings, fears, outrages, injuries offered up by the mind, we rest in the lure of the body truths.
Perhaps this is why yesterday, Andréa went to her moleskin to write. The body is tactile. Sensate. I have moleskins and I love them, but when I want to drop into my loving playful self, my tabula rasa of choice is a big fat spiral high school notebook. I got onto this when I studied The Artist’s Way and did my morning pages. I don’t feel the need to say important things neatly, like I do in a moleskin or in the gorgeous stamped leather book my sons gave me one Christmas. They make me self conscious and self editing before I put pen to paper. I touch down and there arises a pooling blot of ink and I think I have made a mistake (my mind tells me) and I close the book and wait for the perfect poem.
It took me many years to write fluently on the computer. All my writing was on paper and transcribed where I would edit as I went along. Now I wonder if writing on the computer somehow disconnects us from the body process, bypassing intuition to connect fingers tapping too directly to mind. The mind is where we really bleed from and we just pretend it is a body function or soul revelation. We are bleeding from memories that no longer exist. We bleed and make our bleeding our real self’s story. But is that story true? And if there are some realities, are they the realities we want to propagate? I must confess here that while I was enormously helped and instructed by The Artis’s Way and Cameron’s other books, I ultimately gave up on the morning pages because they encouraged my rants rather than my quietudes. It became like meeting a friend for coffee who is ragging about her lousy husband. The tendency is to be an understanding friend and you come up with some deficiency in your own relationship and there you go – downhill into shared misery. It’s a bad habit.
Here’s what I think, feel, know. Experience is a tool. Nothing more. Use it. It is the nutcracker for the soul’s emergence from the prison of the mind. It is not a living thing that should be fed until it grows into a fire breathing dragon. The cut may have left a scar, but the pain is just a memory. We keep it alive when we continually energize it. We truly write ourselves alive when we write the freedom manifesto for our soul’s escape into a life lived large.
Our soul is already fully bright with all that we might be. There is nothing to achieve or get. There is no arrival. We are already there – here. Now.. The challenge is to let the soul take the lead and inform our mindful being-ness that it really should be in charge of choices and expression.
We speak of muses showing up or inspiration arriving as we sit in front of a white page, screen or paper. But what we are really doing is showing up and respectfully and patiently waiting for our inner voice. Not the mind. The soul. We have shut the soul out of the conversation so many times, it may be a bit tentative at first. That’s when the body helps. Let your body speak and your soul will know you are willing to listen. After writing an entire book on this process – baby step by baby step, story by story, I came to understand the difference in voice when the words begin.
If I write words of suffering, it is my mind. If I latch on to an injustice, I can stay cycling in that for as long as I find examples – which is eternity. If I write words of soothing awareness that experience, though sometimes painful, is opening me to a brighter expression then the soul is leading. My being is infinite. We cannot spend our energy in two places at once. We choose when we sit down to write, or wake in the morning, or respond to a loved one, which creative voice will speak.
It isn’t easy in the middle of the night to still the chatter. I know. I choose not to engage. I let it just run on until it is out of breath. Some nights I know I will not sleep until dawn and let that be what it is. I breath slowly and deeply, listen to the night sounds and let my mind noise fade into the background.
The man who suggested writing was to sit at the typewriter and bleed ultimately killed himself. He was a master of thought and words. What mischief was his mind telling him? I want to be vulnerable without dying for it. I want to be vulnerable and live for it. I want to live the simple pleasures of being all I can be and creating my own bright piece of the tapestry of life.
Why does creativity have to be messy? Why can’t it be beautiful? Why does creativity have to be painful to be authentic? Why can’t it be liberating? Why can’t we toss out the memories of all that pains us like old clothes for Goodwill without the need to take them apart stitch by stitch and package them neatly in rational order? We had clothes. We wore them. They are not in our closet anymore. We had experiences. We learned from them. They do not define us anymore. Sometimes our mind just deludes us into believing we are less than we actually are.
Today my body wants to tell my mind to shut the f**k up.