“In the sky there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy and confusion.” ― Ishmael Beah
Yesterday unravelled like the previous day. I woke early, strapped on my tennis shoes and headed for a run. When I returned, the noise of the morning laid at my feet. I grabbed my coffee cup and let the smell of the liquid goodness simmer in the air. While my morning elixir brewed, I unloaded the dishwasher, made a smoothie for my daughter and assembled the parts of her lunch hoping to make it whole. We headed to the car and drove to school. She maneuvered her body and backpack outside of the car door as she waved goodbye.
Her half-wave and smile signifies the beginning of my work day. I rush up the stairs to my office and start to write. In the last few weeks, though, this part of my day is met with resistance. All writers push against a single fear – What if the stories stop? In my last post, I cited an unintended hiatus in my posting schedule. The truth is I’ve written several posts, but they are lone strands that don’t quite make a braid. My fingers hover around the delete button more often than they touch the other keys. The words are thin, the sentiment forced and it leads to a melancholy that adds a palpable edge to my day. I stalk the words of others for a glimpse of inspiration. I pull out my trusted writing guides, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing, read the words of two of my favorite poets, David Whyte and Mary Oliver and peruse Rebecca Solnit’s, A Field Guide to Getting Lost. If I am not writing, at least I am reading words that, I hope, will push me closer to opening my own muse.
I look at the keys again. I type a few words, string together a paragraph and then the anxiety creeps in again. Didn’t I say that last week? Am I constantly repeating my own history? Is this relevant? Will anyone relate to these words? Do I even relate to them? These thoughts keep strumming with a constant hum. As if on cue, my headphones blare Grace Potter’s refrain, “Are we falling or flying?”
After a few hours, the toil of my day still looks like a blank page. Nothing. I stop. The afternoon signifies a temporary end to my writing day. I throw my hair into a ponytail and grab my keys to pick up my daughter. In the car, we exchange words about her day and she starts to tell her stories. I listen. The hours that unfold center around my role as a mother. Helping with homework, cooking dinner and coordinating her after school activities. On Thursday evenings, I chauffeur her to tennis lessons. Sometimes I watch. On this particular evening, I decided to head home and try to return to the page. I heard the woodpecker knock on the side of our house, the thrum of a lawn mower and the excited screams of kids playing on the street. I didn’t hear the sound of the keys typing. I stopped.
I darted out to pick up my daughter from her lesson and after gathering her belongings we head to the car and I glance at the spectacular sky and it stops me in a different way. I paused, as my daughter kept saying, “Look at the sky, Momma. Look at the sky.” I grabbed my phone and captured the image of the changing colors, the shifting, all the season’s emotions splattered in technicolor.
Pay attention. Look up. I am reminded I am whole, even when the words aren’t falling as they should. The stories don’t stop.
I need to shift my perspective.