‘I’ve been here before,’ I thought, sitting on my bed in the midst of a mind-unconstipating “Aha!” moment.
The clutter started last spring, right around the end of April, when my left knee started slipping out of place. I couldn’t stop thinking, “What if?” Then, when I decided to have surgery, I became consumed with, “What will happen next?”
Underneath these questions was another question asked by a voice I didn’t hear. At least not right away.
The house got cleaned and the husband got fed and the dogs got let out and the plants got watered, but in terms of my professional life, nothing got done. Whenever I tried to think about what to write next, my mind was mud. It hurt. Thoughts ran away and took refuge in planning what I’d make for dinner and remembering if I’d let the dogs out or watered the plants.
Six years ago, I had a question begin the same way, as a whisper in the back of my head – “Do you want to lose weight?” It had to get as loud as an 1880s farm wife clanging a dinner bell before I gave it proper attention.
In April, the question that began as a whisper was, “What do you want to write?” Notice the question wasn’t, “DO you want to write.” I had a choice to lose weight, but ask any writer about writing and they’ll tell you it is as necessary as breathing. I know this. I feel this every day. And yet I resisted. Still I would think, ‘Nothing! I don’t want to write anything! Leave me alone! I’m recovering from knee surgery?’
(…No, I don’t want to lose weight. Leave me alone! Can’t you see I’m happy being 300 pounds?”…)
The voice now, just as the voice in 2004, was having none of that.
Before I had surgery, I asked the members of Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook (come on over and join us!) if they had suggestions for books to read during recovery. One member suggested anything by the author Elizabeth Berg. I checked out her book, “The Art of Mending,” and was hooked.
Shortly after I finished, I went online to find more titles by Elizabeth Berg and found she’d written a non-fiction book called “Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True.” (Hmmmm…my weight loss journey started with the book “Get With The Program” by Bob Greene.)
I ordered two of Berg’s fictions as well as “Escaping Into the Open,” and when they arrived, I devoured the fiction. The non-fiction sat on my books shelf for weeks. (“Get With the Program” sat in my nightstand for months…)
I passed "Escaping..." every day and felt a little guilty about it just sitting there. I mean, I paid good money for it and everything, so I moved it to on top of my nightstand. Soon after, a friend wrote to me (coincidentally?) and said she decided to quit her job and write a book. Just like that. No mud in her mind. She just knew.
That’s when the volume got turned up real loud in my head: “What do you want to write?!”
It was finally time to “sit on my cushion,” to quote my former therapist, and make space for and query that vast darkness in my mind.
I opened “Escaping…” and by page 18, I was ready to start journaling. From the journaling was born…just like six years ago…that awesome “Aha!” moment when it became crystal clear what I wanted.
Of course like anything we decide to accomplish, “Aha!” is just the beginning. The real work lies ahead. (Or is it “lays”? Calling all proofreaders! Gail? Anybody?) It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to write ___.” You have to commit to the path, even though you know that path will include temptations, frustrations, and mind-numbing boredom.
But if you allow your “Aha!” moment and all the work you did prior to that moment to be your companions (thus the reason I encourage everyone to journal their answers), you’ll not wander too far for too long from that path.
I’m only a week into my writing commitment and already I’ve found comfort in my “Aha!” moment. I’ve reread it several times to remind myself what I want. I’m on the path. God knows the writing process itself will muddy my mind all on its own, just as cheesy mashed potatoes and peanut butter ice cream try to muddy my diet. But it’s mud I’ll encounter on the path and not the mud of a wandering, afraid-to-reflect mind. Somehow, that mud looks…I don’t know…clearer.
If you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about your “Aha!” moment(s). How did you get to it? Does it still “feed” you now on the path it started you on?
Whenever I need inspiration to deal those voices, I listen to the Moody Blues song “The Voice.”
Make a promise, take a vow. And trust your feelings, it’s easy now. Understand the voice within and feel the changes already beginning.
And how many words have I got to say? And how many times will it be this way, with your arms around the future, and your back up against the past? You’re already falling. It’s calling you on to face the music and the song that is coming through. You’re already falling. The one that it’s calling is you.