I’m breathing…to put it simply. And not in that “I’m so down or overwhelmed that I can only live moment to moment” type breathing. I mean that, I don’t feel like I’m gasping for air, or exhaling at the earliest convenience. I’ve embarked on the journey, I am still, content and breathing…and I must say, the feeling is so refreshing.
We had our district manager visit the bookstore today, and of course I wasn’t freaking out at all this week. (only screaming on the inside, and I might have thrown up a little bit in my mouth J) Ha ha. If you have ever seen my craft table or room for that matter you’d never believe I have an organized bone in my body, much less a minor complex about organizing. I was always the kid who shoved everything into her closet or under the bed, whichever permitting. But at work, I’m different…I never quite feel like I am done, or like everything is perfect. I kind of pulled myself down to earth this week. I tried not to push the girls, or myself too far in preparing, as it is the first week of school and we’ve just recovered from HP7, inventory and a massive returns list. But there is this knowing part of me that collectively fears criticism. And yes, I have heard the term “constructive criticism” and I don’t much believe in it. No matter how I try to let it roll off my shoulders in a casual yet applicable way, it never works. I wind up feeling anxious and flustered and somehow as though I have failed to accomplish the task. So when my DM arrived full of praise and thanks at how we are doing (only on our second store visit ever) I was incredibly relieved…and I realized how lucky I am to have someone like her who is so supportive and encouraging. Someone who acknowledges the journey and respects the risks involved.
I finally made it to my writing group yesterday. (Even if you are not interested in writing for the purpose of a lifestyle I still recommend the experience) There is really no other place that requires such vulnerability and trust, and though these people are much older than I am, I really resonate with my group. Our particular group is focused on healing writing. At 22 I am have only begun the search for my own narrative. I am in a state of flux and question that is somehow comfortable within its transition. It has taken me years to embrace my individual path in this life, to consider an alternative possibility to those that were given me. To contemplate that the mythologies of strength and survival my family composed were actually stories of abuse and repression, or to suggest that the faith community I was raised in has failed in its duty to love and uphold, or to sometimes simply tell the literal truth of ones own experience is to risk alienation, judgment, and ultimately spiritual suicide. The road gives two options, that is not enough. It is writing which has served as the ultimate quest, embodied in the same discipline of ritual and tradition I have always followed. As someone who feels the need to control so much, writing is just the opposite. It is the one element of being in which I feel possessed and overtaken by the process. It is to allow for ritual and structure without control over the outcome. A process of creation in which I become an instrument rather than a conductor. Kim Stafford writes that we get the abundance by living, and the coherence by writing….
And sometimes it all comes back to breathing…because there are times when the words just won’t come, and I must find a method that will entice them to flow. I comb through notebooks full of stray thoughts; flip through books on the writing craft, in search of those fragments on the page which were feverishly highlighted or underlined, dog-eared corners that mark deep and trepid wonderment. I compose a music playlist that matches my mood or writing topic, knowing I can be teased into an essay with lyrics. When all measures have been exhausted, when all has failed I simply let go and wait. I breathe, close my eyes and imagine I am adrift on a river, swallowed into the foaming sea. I am mercilessly tossed along, groping beneath the water’s lucid complexion, drowning in the deep blue chasm. I tread in this limbo until something breaks.