orange stickers begging to be rescued
“dance parties and birds with leopard skin pants. brown chairs, bricks, and Tom Rosenthal songs. lyrics that turn our heart inside out and connect souls. The sound of an owl you will never see and cars rushing by to get to nowhere. why always in such a hurry? noisy. messy. chaotic. determined. and without result. orange stickers begging for rescue and cold water to put out the flames. bleeding knees and swollen ankles and all the others glories of pushing yourself. happy postmen who catch a break from the heat and the whispers of trees as they dance to the wind. These words that rattle around in my head as through it were my turn in a game of boggle. what happens when I let them escape? can I make them into something pretty? something that makes you want to breathe deeper?” ~ Adi
I taught another meditation and journaling workshop this afternoon. Each time I do one of these, I flip back through an old journal to share something with the class. I never planned on diving that deep into my own vulnerability, but within the first few minutes of the very first time I led one, I saw something behind the eyes of one of the students in the room. I’ve always thought that people’s eyes tell a truer story than their lips, even if you don’t know the person very well, and his eyes said that he had a story. A story he wanted to tell, if only to himself, but he needed something to do it. Something more than a piece of paper and how-to instructions. Something more than a block of time that he paid for. Something more than words of encouragement hanging in the air. The only thing I could think of to do was to let him and the rest of the group see me brave (and, as it turns out, survive) my own fears of people seeing too much, it might put a little crack in his protective shield. After all, if my theory on the eyes is correct, then surely mine were silently screaming “No!” as I began to read the words quoted above. And surely he and all of his cohorts would catch that and be able breathe just a little more deeply about what they were being asked to do. When I closed my journal, I looked up to see a shift. Eyes were smiley, jaws weren’t clenched, and even when they shifted in their seated positions, the movement was more fluid. It seemed to work, so I’ve just rolled with it since.
Now, hopping back to those words for a moment… I should clarify that I was careful in what I chose to share. Since I practice and teach a free flow style of journaling, my pages are filled with unedited, uncensored thoughts. Sometimes they are nonsense (the above being a shining example of that), sometimes they are repetitive (I’ve literally got an entire page filled with nothing but the word “purple.” I couldn’t have been happier to get to the bottom of that page!), and sometimes they are very real, very raw words that may affect others within my circle, and those will never be shared. That’s not about my own vulnerability, rather it’s about protecting the privacy of others. In any case, I wanted them to see that sometimes the words that rattle around in our heads are complete jabberwocky and that that’s a normal thing.
In any case, let me circle back to the very first sentence of this post - or more accurately, my reason for writing it - and that is the rediscovery of an old feeling. A reconnection with a lifelong passion. A little spark of the excitement I used to feel when I’d actually do the thing I was teaching people to do. You see, one of the things that I reassure people in these workshops is that it’s normal for this practice to gain momentum and then slowly fizzle out, only to resume in full “I’m doing this every single day for the rest of my days” force, followed by a sudden, often inexplicable, explosive death. God. I’ve been there, right at eleventy-seven hundred times. What I’ve not yet said, though, is how long that gap can be. Mostly because I didn’t know, but today, as they were writing and I was flipping through old journals, I realized that it can be at least seven months, one week, and five days - give or take. It was in that moment that I realized that I’d not just “taken a break” from daily writing, but I’d completely abandoned it. I mean I knew it, but I didn’t know it. As in deep-down-further-than-my-brain-feel-the-effects-in-my-gut know it. Fortunately, just before I’d counted how long that break abandonment was, I felt a little butterfly about doing it again. You might be curious about why the sequence of those events matter…. You see, had I counted the calendar first and then felt the twinge to resume, my hyper-analytical side would’ve questioned my motives: “Do I really miss this or do I just feel guilty that I’m not doing it? If it is guilt, should I start writing again and see if it turns into good, old-fashioned discipline because I don’t know… guilt doesn’t seem like a very good reason to do something. But if I really do miss it and I let it slip further away because I think it’s guilt, am I robbing myself of even more days? Why did I even let it go so long to begin with? Maybe I start there and find my answer. Will that even work, though, because it will just read like a list of excuses and that will only piss me off.” <— And this can go endlessly. It’s a whole thing I do, so yes, the order of those moments matter. A lot.
So here I sit, surrounded by a pile of journals (mostly old, one new), three crazy dogs begging for attention, and a beer, and I’m writing. These words are un-censored for the first time in far too long. They are choppy and inharmonious. They don't flow and they weren't made into something pretty... but they are real. They are inspired by all of the people who have ever given up a piece of their weekend to come to one of these workshops and all of the people who have ever taken a few moments out of their lives to read the things that I write. They are inspired by my own passion and discipline and knowledge that, like anything, with a dedicated practice comes true progress. They are inspired by that little butterfly in my stomach that encouraged me to reconnect.