Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eat, Love, Pray and......write?

Sister Sue has been reading "Eat, Pray, Love". "You'll have to read it when I'm done" she said when I was there last week. I had seen it in the bookstore on one of my many excursions of waffling through literary love and bargaining with myself about how many books I could actually afford to indulge at the expense of my oftem empty pocket book. It had never really called to me. Worse, I had noticed it on the favorites list of a new-agey self-help guru, to say the least, that I'd rather not have been acquainted with. That sorta sealed the deal, if she was into it, I wouldnt find much wisdom there. Yet in the middle of drop in dinners and endless loads of laundry, i took a chance and enteretained some of the pages. Today I read..

"Virginia wolfe wrote "across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword. On one side of that sword lies convention and tradition and order where "all is correct". But on the other side of that sword if your crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention.."all is confusion", nothing follows a regular course. Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman but you can bet it will also be more perilous".

Damn, I could relate to that, for that was the cliff I had been wandering along for do or not to do, to love or not to love, to heal or not to heal, that is the question. But the truth is, as i found myself dancing within the adventures in her book, i realized yet again, i do an awful lot of "fixing" and not enough of "living".

A couple of days ago I wrote on the status line of my beloved facebook page (the only current outlet for unveiled self expression in the support of community i have had), "what kind of career path will pay you to meet a ton of interesting people, completely submerse yourself in your experiences with them and then write about it". My best friend sparks explained thats why he stayed in school, "noone is going to pay you to do that" he said, that shutter of reality breaking through my dream world again. A fellow wanderer said "yeah..let me know when you find that path, i've been wondering about it myself for years". Of course I thought, there was that ruthless dreamer in me again denying all conventional wisdom that i had been imparted on these 26 years of travelling for truth. Yet here, in the middle of Elizabeth Glibert's pages, was a story of another woman denying convention, looking to calm the valiant tides that continued to beckon inside of her, answer the bugeoning questions she had about the universe and her place in it and come to terms with her unabashedly but enduring wandering nature. Better yet, she explored it through the daily experiences of her life, an interweaviing of the dance between her internal world and the gifts the universe brought her in the external world with which to explore them. Best yet, she got paid to write about them. Aha...the writer rises again. But how does one really become a writer? Do they go back to study the art of literary prose, the dos and do nots of the buisness, instruction on style, ettiquette and sequence, only to have the creative passion born in them squashed out of them anyway? Do they wander around aimlessly, working for minimum wage by day and in the shadows of the night bring forth what lives within them? Like anything else, I'm sure the industry is messy and competitive, some over zealous tyrants worried about making the next big buck, telling you what it is that you will write about or threatening to destroy your contract. Just last year I re-acquainted with long lost childhood friend that in her love of books had idealistly entered the publishing world, only to have been heartbroken by the politics of the industry, dream shattered, tail between her legs returned to university to be a librarian.

Amidst the decision to move to BC, I remembered a medium I had seen at Lilydale (a spiritualist community, or home to many a medium for at least 120 years now) a couple of summers ago and that he had mentioned prospects of this move. Eagerly I sought out the tape and strained restlessly in the midst of a crackled, soft recording what in fact assurance he was going to provide that i was making the right decision. For the first twenty minutes he went on about my career, stating that the woman that was communicating with him in my reading, one of my stubborn spirited female ancestors more specifically, was insisting I not take my hard won rights of the feminist movements for granted. I had freedom, she insisted, freedom to learn, freedom to reproduce or not to, freedom to marry or not to, freedom to, in other words not far off from the words written by Virginia Wolfe that inspired me to write this entry. At the time, I wasn't surprised, a studious social worker steeped in the work of women's advocacy, born of a path i'm sure intended it (thats a story for another day). And just before my less conventional-defying gramdother stepped in to remind me that although divorced twice at 24, i should be stabley married by 26, she insisted I write. "Do you write?" the small magical man asked, "because she is insisting you begin writing on the internet". Write on the internet? I thought to myself, hmmm, maybe she was asking me to blog, which ironically i had only started a week before at cosmic claire's assertion that the rich tumult of my inner world would perhaps make for some interesting reading. It had only taken me three years to put into action, but I suppose it was good that my life was in it's own weave bringing forth the nudgings that i left scattered in the dust as i hurried along trying to become somebody.

Last Friday, after a week job searching and some painfully awkward waitressing interviews that highlighted the fact that i could not just put my analytical therapist role behind me and go back to a time where my mind had no awareness of such things, a little voice within me said.."Go to Gifts for the Soul". Gifts for the Soul, is a quaint little metaphysical shop I found in my early days of "awakening", offering a place of quiet solitude from the chaotic productivity that threatened to sweep me away on a daily basis in the early years post-divorce. Owned by two very different, yet equally intiguing female partners and home to the best kept women's secret, the Ya-Ya sister circle, it seemed a good idea to follow that nudging and see what came up. When I arrived, Adelle, a sweet, retired, school teacher attempting to answer her own questions of the journey she has walked informed me that Sandra (Owner #1) was away, caring for her mother and Terry (Owner #2) was in the healing room conducting a clearing. I would wait, I told her, to touch in with Terry, in the meantime loosing myself in the sweet smelling incense, rippling symphony of soul-i-tude and the beckoning of a surplus of metaphysically saturated literature.

"What are you up to these days?" she asked. Eeeek, the much dreaded question, that despite it's persistent prescence in my life, i still hadnt mustered the right methodically plotted answer to. "Well" I sighed..."I suppose I'm on a soul-a-battical". Her face lit up with interest..."ooo that sounds so interesting...are you a writer?" she asked. Half perplexed and half chuckled I cracked a sheepish grin and said "well that's an interesting question, what made you ask?". "The word you used" she said "Soulabaticcal...Where did you hear it? did you just make it up?". I laughed, I wasn't sure if I had just made it up or heard it somewhere, it just seemed a good word to describe my current place in the abyss. Where i was going to or what i was doing, all seemed a mystery, the only thing I new for sure, is at this point in my life, I was most definately lost and it seemed a much prettier way to describe the churning of my internal processes than the pragmatic day to day reality of a struggling single mother, poorer than a rusted out garbage can, attempting to justify that her direction should actually bear a purpose.

I told her about the budding practice i had just left, the place of unknowing i sat in while i awaited the move to BC with no real plan about how that was going to come together and the irony of her question about me writing. I began "It just seems like i live between two worlds.." before she cut me off in excitement. "Write a book" she stammered "just as you speak i can resonate with what your saying, which makes me think there will be hundreds more that will feel the same". Was this a nudging of the universe? Of course in my morning stress about how to go about getting some kind of short term adequate income before the move and that little voice inside asked me to go to my sanctuary of all things metaphysical, surely I didn't get any counsel for my existential abyss, practical opportunities for employment, but I did get a woman that was insisting I write a book, just weeks after the visit from my cassette player and the shaming incistence of a spirit from the women's lib, urging me to take heed of my opportunities and begin writing on the internet.

If i had a dime for every time I was told by someone brave enough to listen to the hallows of my journey in this world to "write a book" i'd have enough money to pay a writer to write my story and give all the royalties to charity. I can still remember in vivid detail sitting in the steel laminate desk in primary school, in the midst of what felt like some cosmic joke, the pleasure i took in learning each new word, the way that it came together, what it meant and how it sounded. Syllable dancing. The memoirs of my childhood most delicately illustrated in my carefully worded stories and the tattered journals that were always found in my purse through my adolescent travels. I decided very young, that it was important to keep carefully recorded passages of how i felt about the events of my life, what questions came out of them and how i sought to answer them. I told myself at the time I kept them because as i began to develop a conciousness about my place in the world there were so many questions, always left unanswered and when i would seek solace from my parents, that they too had asked themselves these questions I was often met with "I don't remember". I thought maybe, if i could record these experiences, the ways they made me feel and the way i found myself through them, that my children might feel normal when they too found themselves in stuck in the swamp of the unknown. But maybe that was really about something larger, a seed that the pragmatics of poverty, trauma and survival had stolen before it made it's way to germination. That now, even amidst those same conditions, the difference was, that I had done everything the world told me to to seek to rid me of my existential ills. I had married twice, had a child, went to university, got 2 degrees and a chance at a road out of the misery pragmatics, but yet, i still wasn't satisfied. Yet in truth, it was more than dissatisfaction, it was a complete pausing, a feeling that something bigger than myself was not going to let me rest until i made a clear stop and took a big breath before burying myself into the next perfectionistic direction of scholar-dom or productivity.

I had always written and always loved it, before "responsibility" showed it's face and convinced me creativity was best left for retirement. I thought of things in pictures best scowered with juicy words to give breath to that which only seemed a fleeting thought but could become a masterpeice. In my scholarly work, acclaimed for my writing, first pick editor in most job sites right up until my practicum supervisor in grad school stated that she thought I was more of a researcher/scholar, better at writing about therapy than actualizing the demands of a therapist. The truth is, I always did feel safer writing about it than doing it, in the comfort of a blank page, with time to take a step back, i could offer up the best explanation for what was going on in a way that almost anyone could understand, but put me there in front of the client, i felt like a clown wearing a priest outfit. "I know your suffering, because i've felt it too, more close a friend of mine than anything other along this path and ive read, learned and scowered the wisest minds of what to do about it and have yet to arrive at a satisfying conclusion so what can i really tell you?" Anything else, felt mechanistic, unreal, full of deciet and hypothetical yet packaged in fact. Yet in grad school, after my deadening "awakening" had spun me back from a slow methodical enquiry into the chaotic neruon-planet that i was, i was told my writing was incomprehensible and the culprit...too much retreat into poetic prose for the likings of the de-tached writing of good rigorous scholarly enquiry. Spirit met me again and the language of my soul was becoming born without any permission or encouragement from me. So maybe I write...for now...I need to make an income.

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