I skipped my bootcamp again this morning: I can’t seem to get enough sleep so a 6 am wake-up call comes too early, and lately the days exhaust me. I keep casting about for the ‘why,’ as if identifying some root cause would make it easier to feel this way, or maybe just make it okay by providing a reason… I’m curious about this need to have a logical basis for my experience, to give myself permission to feel as I do.
Naturally, I have a list of things that are tiring me out: getting myself packed and the house ready for us to be in Canada for five weeks; ongoing management and/or general worry about the work still being done on our first floor; the slow process of moving back into our second floor after tucking our lives into closets and storage spaces; concern about our cat Lucy who has lost a lot of weight and can’t seem to eat enough; and probably not least, short-cutting my self-care: not enough sleep, poor food choices, and lapsed yoga and meditation practices. Inventory may enlighten, but it doesn’t lift the mood.
I went with a friend to hear Paul Simon in conversation earlier in the week. He is an enduring artist who is still deeply engaged in exploring his musical craft, and I have loved his music since before I was a teenager. He spoke of knowing that his creative cycle is generally three years long (although he typically produces albums every 4-6 years) and still he doubts himself and what is next when he is in his “fallow” period. After he releases an album, he said he is exhausted and has no ideas. And this worries him for a while. In that moment, he doubts that he’ll ever have an idea again. After about a year, he notices that he has the sprout of an idea or two, and he plays with them. And then the momentum and creativity return steadily, although not without the occasional stuck place as he works a song or a lyric. “It’s hard,” he said.
Okay, so I’m no Paul Simon, but I found it so instructive that he both “knows” how his creative cycle works, knows that the fallow time is necessary and passes into the next phase, and yet, he still perturbed by those periods. He doubts himself and his abilities in that time with no ideas. And even when he is deep in his creative periods, he experiences his work as hard. He knows intellectually that some things take more work than others, but he struggles with the hard part. Paul Simon is nearly 75 years old, pursuing a career and talent he chose when he was 13: he has plenty of experience observing how he works, and still it’s new each time. He doubts what will come next and what his gifts will yield, even whether he has gifts at all.
That’s humbling, and oddly reassuring.
My last post was about restoration, and I think I sounded pretty comfortable with the notion of what it might take before I saw a clear, creative path forward. I’ve observed that sometimes the process of writing and examining a thing moves me to clarity. And then the clarity fades. Maybe like Paul Simon, I know (intellectually) but still can’t get comfortable with the experience of being tired, of not knowing what will come next, or with wondering if I will ever have an idea again.
In the meantime, what comes next is that we are off to Canada first thing in the morning, arriving at Port Hardy and then God’s Pocket on Sunday, June 12. We will be there close to five weeks, care-taking a bit and overseeing operations a bit. I know it will be very good for us to be away from the chaos we’ve experienced here at home since our return in March, and to be in a place that reminds us of the power and beauty of the natural world. I’m already imagining diving into the cove because even if the water is very cold, it is summer and that’s what we do!
Finally, please indulge me with a shameless plug: my sister, Anora Sutherland McGaha, is the publisher of a journal of poetry, prose and images by women, When Women Waken (www.whenwomenwaken.org). The latest issue – Water – is now available in print from https://www.createspace.com/5886819. (CreateSpace is Amazon’s publishing platform.) I was honored when my sister invited me to submit one of my blog posts from our winter in God’s Pocket – very fitting for a water-themed edition — and blown away by the work of the other women in the journal. Check it out!
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