The wagons were circling. The sheriff and deputy were
stepping down from their horses, cuffs in hand. This felt familiar. She had
broken another rule and they were here to take her in.
“No way. Not going.”
Nevermind that they were only here to help. Nevermind that
she was really in trouble and what she saw as cuffs was only kindness.
She cut and run. Dashing into the woods, she disappeared
behind the weed, a haze blurred her from view, but no one made chase. They only
watched as the smoke consumed her.
It’s doing the same thing over and over, expecting a
Have you been there?
Stuck in a rut, a cycle, on a merry-go-round, unable to find
the exit? How do you stop the madness? How do you decipher friends from foes as
you fight for your life?
As the wagons circle you may wonder if they’re coming for you
with cuffs or kindness, sometimes they look the same, yet if you continue down
the same path you’re traveling, where will it lead you? To paradise?
It’s doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.
I slump onto the step out of breath, sweat drips off of my chin. My heart pounds like a bass drum.
“You okay?” It’s a familiar question.
“I’m fine,” my usual reply. I just need a minute.
A few seconds to catch my breath then I’ll begin again. I’m not much of a long distance runner. You won’t see any selfies of me on social media from the Boston marathon. But I do believe in the hard push, even if it’s short bursts. I recognize the health benefits of interval training which involves high level intense activity for short periods of time followed by short recovery periods. This kind of exercise works for me. I get bored with doing one type of exercise for an extended time, so I like knowing that in 5 or 10 minutes I’ll get to do something else. It’s also motivating to know that even if this exercise that I’m doing right now is difficult, I only have to endure it for a little while, then I’ll get to rest or switch to something else.
As I consider this rhythm with my exercise routine, I can see how this also works with other aspects of my life and work.
There are times when every day is a push. I’m running from one thing to the next, hardly able to catch my breath, and I feel as though my heart is going to jump out of my chest from all the stress! But then there’s that blessed rest at the end of the week, when I can collapse on the sofa and do absolutely nothing for hours. Hallelujah!
The problem comes when I pause too long. The rest has to be long enough for me to recover from the work, but not for my muscles to get cold. Although the weekend rest is relaxing, if I sleep too long on Sunday, it will be that much harder to move on Monday.
If I’m being honest, I’d have to say this Monday blog has suffered because I’ve overslept.
I use that term ironically, because I’ve hardly been asleep, though. It’s just that this creative work has been pushed to the side by the day-to-day grind. So much so that every time I’ve come to the writer’s desk I’ve stared at a blank computer screen that merely stared back at me! Sometimes there are no words even when the words are there. They float around, but refuse to settle down. There’s so much to say, yet nothing to be said. I’m stumped by second-guesses, muted by mobs of doubt and distracted by distant deadlines. So, it has been easier to let the Mondays go by.
A pause? A few seconds to catch my breath?
That’s what I tell myself. I need to re-group. Think about what I’m doing, and what’s my plan moving forward? But, long breaks are detrimental to progress. If the creative muscles aren’t exercised they will weaken. The difficulty I’m having now won’t last, but neither can I avoid the difficulty too long.
I know this as I claw my way back to the writing desk! My head is still as empty as it was a week ago, my fingers still crooked on these keys, but I can’t quit! Creative work is work–it’s not easy. But nothing that is worth having ever is. If I am ever going to perfect this craft I must continue to work at it, and the only way to work at it is to work it. It’s like exercise. You don’t do it ‘cause you feel like it, you do it until you feel like it, and once you feel like it, you’ll keep doing it!
After a moment or two, I wipe the sweat with my sleeve as I begin another round. Rest time is over. Time to get back to work!
Marrying an even-tempered man had its advantages, but sometimes it made her crazy! Although they rarely argued, Janet often felt like she was going through her emotional experiences all alone–with someone who wasn’t affected by them. Mark saw change as mere, matter-of-fact occurrences unworthy of comment or discussion. What, then, should Janet do with her comments and expressions? So often she wanted to express herself, but found that when she did the people in her house—not just her husband, but her children too—looked at her with puzzled, annoyed or amused expressions and shook their heads. As if to say, “here goes crazy mom again,” overreacting as usual.
Nevermind that so many changes in her life were happening so fast and she didn’t like them, but Mark seemed unphased. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t get him to join her in the amazement.
“Look at these pictures from 20 years ago!” She would exclaim. “Look how young everyone was!”
“Oh my gosh, can you believe our daughter’s going to college already!”
Barely a blip on the radar.
“Wow, it seems like just yesterday we brought our baby home from the hospital, now look he’s almost taller than me!”
Janet’s a writer. Mark’s a scientist. For Janet, these important life changes are intertwined with her creative work and an important part of how she processes everything that is going on around her. So, when she writes something she’s especially proud of, she naturally wants to share it with her family. Of course, her family is politely supportive, but, when you’re the creative and emotional one who sees the world in metaphor and they’re the logical, matter-of-fact types who see everything in black and white, once the creative piece you’re sharing extends beyond a couple of sentences, a glassy look comes into their eyes and there’s a sound of birds chirping in the distance. The chirping stops, abruptly, when she gets to the last sentence, and, of course, everyone smiles politely and says “that was very good,” and she’s appeased, but empty, because she and they know what’s true.
It’s a lonely life.
You’re emotional. You feel things deeply. You “read” the world and people like a book and think about life and seasons in ways that others don’t. When you try to talk about those things, people look at you and listen, but they don’t really see you or hear. When conversations begin and you join in, they stop, or shift, or shut down, because you bring an entirely new perspective that no one thought of, or considered. They move on and leave you with your thoughts, unengaged.
It’s just our lot as creative thinkers.
But, maybe there are others who are like us who can appreciate the significance of the change happening all around, who will “oh my gosh” and “wow” and “amen” along side us while digging into the deeper meanings of those experiences and help us process them. It is not strange that we should need this, even if those around us do not. It is not strange that we should desire to discuss and write about and display our emotions in response to the world we experience, even if spouses do not. But, what we need is a space to do so that is free from the disparaging gaze of those who don’t understand, because the disapproving eye has so much power over the soul. Their disinterest makes us second-guess ourselves and their wrinkled brow squelches our light.
We will inevitably live and/or work with those who function outside of our mental space. But, perhaps it will stretch us in some way, make us work harder, think more…it will certainly give us something to write about.
Yet, in order to do our work, we must sneak away…for the sake of our souls, we must find a safe space, maybe even a secret place…and, if we can, a like-minded group. Forget about the people in your house! They might love you, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for your writing life. Find a writer’s group—even one online! But you mustn’t let go of your pen.
Shhh, even if we have to keep it secret, whatever we do, we’ll keep writing!