For the past several days, I have allowed Overwhelm to creep in and make itself at home. Being one to offer hospitality freely, I figured it might only need a day or two before it was ready to slink off to its next destination. If I was kind enough, I reckoned, it might even be lighter on the next person’s resources, a sort of pay-it-forward karma, if you will. Overwhelm took advantage of the opening and wedged itself in there so firmly that I can’t even distinguish the space it has taken over as my own right this moment. I’m now faced with taking back some of that ground more forcefully than I’d like.
I’m going to do that by stringing FOUR days of Lyn Thurman’s “Writing the Wisdom of Your Soul” together and hoping that their combined strength helps me build the bridge I need back to my own fertile soil. I’ll tick through them here at the beginning because I’m not feeling particularly drawn to giving long explanations of each but rather a synopsis as I interpret them – Lyn did a fine job of that in her weekday offerings to anyone enrolled in the challenge. First is The Star – your achievements and general awesomeness. Next is The Moon – your fears about your path and the illogical, absurd ends to which you could take them (knowing they’re unlikely to be that dire in real life). Then comes The Sun – how could your life look if it were cloaked in JOY? And finally, Judgment – What message is calling to you, awakening inside of you?
Owning my gifts, my genius is such a challenging thing until I can find something it feels reasonable to compare it to – so, for instance, I can say that I’m pretty good at writing if I compare it to my (lack of) ability to sing. Likewise, I’m a proficient crocheter if you balance it with the fact that I really cannot knit worth a flip. I can doodle quite well compared to my abysmal (well, nonexistent) oil painting skills. Cooking interesting and new dishes for friends and family is a forte of mine but I wouldn’t dare to call myself a chef out of deference to people who have mastered various culinary traditions. Shoot, my knife skills alone are wanting enough to disqualify me as even the lowliest of kitchen food-prep staff.
A better question, though, is why do I need to make the comparison at all? Why isn’t it enough to just state categorically that I am good at something? (The secret: It really IS okay… There’s a fear standing in the way, though…)
So, here’s how it works: When you speak with authority on anything – even your own talents – someone will feel the need to refute what you are putting forth or, at the very least, knock in their two cents. This applies to everything from parenting to making tacos. I’m pretty sure it’s always been this way – what else is an op ed piece for? But the internet has given supremely easy access to this phenomenon to grow and its corrosive effects are nowhere more evident than in the people I run across daily who hold back their ideas, their stories, their MAGIC because it’s hard to know what to do with the criticism. Some of it could be useful, for sure, but at a certain point, your skin becomes so tender than even the gentlest, most compassionate advice feels like a mighty fire roaring through your being. I have witnessed it happening on a benign recipe [LEANNE’s LINK] then seen her rebuttal on Facebook (a defense of the recipe that she should never have felt like she NEEDED to offer, though I completely understand why she did). I watched Marie Forleo bare her bones about some of the “feedback” she has received from (as she dubs them) “clownholes” who seem simply to want to pick. There is strength in numbers and even if something I wrote and published was condemned by everyone on the planet as utterly useless, it STILL wouldn’t mean that I shouldn’t ever try to write or publish anything ever again.
On the shiny side, if I do take the risk and I do put my work out there, and it DOES get into the hands of some people who find it of value… And the substance of their support was such that I could transform my current working model into something utterly of my own creation… What would that look like? The real beauty in asking and answering this question for myself more than once is that I can begin to see where I can make time and space for this changeover as I go instead of all in one fell swoop. That way, I can also refine the process as I go, aiming in the direction of the ideal but knowing that if it looks or feels different when I get there that I can pick a different heading and make a course correction before I get into rough waters. I’ve been sitting in stagnant waters for a little minute here and stuff is starting to stink a bit. Joy and lightness are a much more pleasant option and I’m keen on pursuing that path, answering that call, rather than staying where I am.
What does it look like? With increasing frequency and clarity, I see an intersection of real books and long walks. That’s the 10,000-foot view and I’m not sure what I’ll find as I descend closer to the scene, though I understand that there will be community there. Warm, supportive, inviting, uplifting, engaging, sensuous, and effortless kinship is what is waiting for me, waiting for when I truly turn loose my constraints and set free my ambitions. The picture shifts often since so many avenues are undecided but I think it’s settling mostly in the mountains (not the city, not the beach, probably not so much the plains or the desert, though possibly, sometimes, maybe). Face-to-face, in-person, real life, real-time interactions predominate over electronic alternatives (which also have their sweet little niche). Conversations go deeper than the surface and vulnerability is the most beautiful virtue.