My friend Bunny Oliver shared a quote on facebook today. It said, "If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”
Masaru Emoto - Secret Life of Water
Bunny is an artist. She paints gorgeous pictures of places she has been, flowers that have caught her artist's eye, changing seasons, and much more. She paints with vivid colors. She also paints with love, and her spirit comes through her work.
Her share on facebook this morning spoke to me. I know in my heart that we are given inspiration when we need it, when we are ready to see and hear it. I also know it is easy to block that direction and listen only to the white noise of stagnation. Ennui has its own sound. And it isn't one you would dance to.
Lately I've felt a definite lack of motivation to pursue the writing projects. For the past six years I worked very hard to create them, collaborate on them, and encourage them to leave the nest and fly. So, my recent months of energy loss has been puzzling and troubling. I wanted to blame someone else, blame the time of my life or something out there conspiring against me. I questioned whether or not I wanted to just let them go, to stop working on them and let them die a natural death. After all, they are not really something that will change the world, right? They are just books, stories and plays. Not literature of import. Why keep working so hard on things that don't really matter?
My perspective began to shift last night when our daughter Katie challenged some of my give-up mentality. I could hear the plates of my resolve-born-of-negativity grate against each other. That almost always signals an earthquake. But this time it is more of a breaking loose, a release like the small click when a door blows open that was not quite shut.
There is a big difference between white knuckling it, gutting it out, forcing yourself to say things you know are true but don't believe at the moment, and letting the truth sink in. Self doubt builds up calluses. We want to be the ones to say it doesn't matter, so that no one's "no" or lack of respect for our work can beat us to the punch.
Return to yourself. Who am I? Who is my best self? I must admit that I am happier, more fulfilled and more positive when I am writing, when I am excited about possibilities for sharing my work with the world. Honestly, if it matters to me and gives me joy, then it matters. If happiness is a choice, if it is born of gratitude and not bestowed on some lucky ones, why would I not choose it?
Disappointments can pile on thick in the writer's world. The prolific novelist James Patterson said he was turned down by 31 publishers for his first book. By the time it was published, he had six others waiting in the wings. He could so easily have given up, blaming others for his lack of success.
Another writer I admire, Anne Lamott, wrote about the character devastation that great success can cause. She told of writers she knew who became so full of themselves after making the best seller list that she no longer called them friends. For a little while, I toyed with the idea that I should stop working because that could happen to me. Seriously, that is worth a giggle. Not because it is impossible or merely highly unlikely. But that I should give up because I might succeed! Ha! Ha ha! Fear of failure/fear of success is exactly the same thing. Being ruled by fear.
Return to yourself. I was not born afraid. I was born to find joy, to believe in good, and to be of service. Hiding behind the excuses that seem sound and true is still hiding. I wasn't born to hide. I was born to bloom, muddy water be damned.
Creating something requires me to suspend my disbelief in myself. To overcome the notion that I have nothing to say. Thanks to Katie and Bunny, I feel the tiny breeze from the crack in the door. I am allowing myself to stand in the breeze and let it blow my hair, let it blow the cobwebs from my imagination. All I need is a little fresh air. Just a bit. That's all I need to return to myself.