Blue Poppy calls it molting, and the gawky, awkward, half-feathered stage of creative flux is a bit like that, I think. This week Iâ€™ve begun to realize just how easily I allow myself to loose sight of the deeper currents in my life. How I smear over them with surface stuff, act overwhelmed, or antsy or angry, when really my inner self is asking to be heard. Iâ€™ve started to stop, when I hear myself take on a certain impatient snippy toneâ€”and doing a little check in: asking myself what I really need, what Iâ€™m really feeling anxious or antsy about.
Iâ€™ve discovered I have a torrent of irrational worries running just below the surface. Many of these worries revolve around my son: the pedantic little whispers of guilt and anxiety I think every new parent must hear. But there are also other voices that whisper the narratives of my unvoiced fear of failureâ€”or success, depending which way that coin is tossed.
This weekâ€™s challenge in The Artistâ€™s Way, was not to read anything. And, as Cameron predicted I balked at this, but not for the reasons she laid out anticipating my resistance. Since my sonâ€™s birth, I donâ€™t have the chunks of time commuting back and forth on the train that I used to have to sink my teeth into a book, and the leisure of reading over a bowl of cereal has gone out the window (along with sleeping in, or being able go to the bathroom unattended). Overall I have read much less this year than in any year prior, and this week I realized that there is a great hunger in my being for good stories and true words.
So instead of NOT reading this week, I decided to bring new attention to my reading lifeâ€”and to make conscious choices about reading, or not.
Instead of reading my favorite blogs, tonight I did art. For hours. And it was exhilarating to sit with a big pot of teaâ€”talking on the phone with one of my beloved friends, and paint. But it was also exhilarating this morning to make the choice TO read, consciously and deeply from The Answers Are Inside the Mountains by William Stafford.
His words about writing, about poetry, and about creating are food for my soul. His sentences are saturated with intent observations about being human in this world, and his writing conveys and a deep sense of gratitude. This resonates with me, and I feel satisfied when I take the time to read his words.
I continue to watch myself teeter back and forth on a tightrope of annoyance and gratitude at having begun The Artistâ€™s Way. I do not find Cameronâ€™s writing to be rich with original thought or nourishing for my soul in the way that Staffordâ€™s poems are, and often I resent her presumptions about audience (I do not feel in recovery, nor I do not feel stifled creatively.) But much fruit has come from responding to her questioning and pushing. I am growing as a result. Molting even, and Iâ€™ll welcome a new set of wings.
So for the rest of the week I will continue to read, but to be alert to it. Each time my eyes are pulled to the page I will take note. I want to try to understand this hunger I have for wordsâ€”and I want to be clear about the times when I use them as escape. Like eating well, my intent is to read well.
(The above image is from a series of small pieces I'm doing for a postcard swap.)