This is a view as familiar to me - as deeply a part of me - as my own name. It's the coast of Oregon, where the mountains meet the sea, and it is one of three places where, if I stand within it, I know exactly who I am. I know myself if my bare feet are on that strip of sand; I know myself when I am on my knees in church, and I know myself when I am pouring out my inner life inside my house, lighting candles or dusting and arranging things in the living room, baking in the kitchen, ironing ... or writing. Here. At my desk, with my view outside the window and my computer streaming radio or - finally - when I am all the way, deep inside, when I turn it off because all the sound is coming from inside of me. This morning I realized that the avoidant silliness of, "I work better under pressure," has a sister who tells the truth. I realized that I work better within, deep within, and I work better when the water is moving. And the water does not move unless it is huge. It has to be large enough to respond to the magnetic pull of the moon - it has to have incoming and outgoing tides. The place where writing happens is a place of enormous power, and foam, and rich salt air, and the inconvenience of sand. In my worshiping soul, this means increasing practice and skill at becoming "recollected" when I get to that pew you can see in this picture. It's on the right side. The first wooden end is the front, then the first pew behind that, and then my pew behind that. I kneel down, I collect "all that I am and have," and then, just as if I had gathered up the things themselves and put them all into one place, I step aside. I come to God with all of this, I name some of it (the most present, most worrying, or most amazing at the moment), I refer to the rest, and I step aside. Here it all is, Lord God of Hosts. And here am I. "Be it unto me according to thy word."When I go to the beach, the same gathering - the same recollecting - the same wholeness of self has sandy feet and awareness. When I do the creative parts of keeping a home, I bring my whole self to that too. And today I have realized that the gathering of the whole self is the thing I do when I write. (That photo is from a cool blog I just found called, "Stuff Journalists Like.") Today it dawned on me that it's "the same, only different" when I do this recollective gathering for the purpose of writing.
But now I'm annoyed. I am annoyed and irritated because the fact is that to gather up my whole self for the creative task of writing is really really hard. I don't relax into this. It doesn't feel like release (which is what happens at the beach), and it doesn't feel like presentation and trust (like what happens in church.) No, the recollection necessary for writing feels like sit-ups or plank pose or hiking up a steep hill. Ah! Now, here's a good picture of it. I found this picture at a very lovely (often laugh out loud) blog called Bath Daily Photo. See the cow? Yeah. That's my pile of writing to do. The cow is walking up to St. Michael's Tower, which seems quite perfect to me.The schoolish part of writing has been surprisingly hard, and turning in drafts for other people to see has been and is still really hard. Just finding the tide shift and the momentum I need is hard. This, then, is the definition of difficulty for me. Writing - the thing I love best - the task in which I recognize myself most clearly - this is my difficult thing. Crap. Do you know what I thought? I was actually silly enough to have believed that the thing I loved the best should be one of the easiest things to do. Why? Why would I believe such a goofy thing? I can think of no reason at all - other than just because I'm human. Wishful thinking, maybe? Probably. I hate Plank Pose. But Plank Pose it is, then. Dolphin Plank Pose for me. Holistic, recollected, deep, deep, deep within. Apparently, bringing the whole self is bringing the whole self, whether I do it in prayer, at the edge of the ocean, or in front of a keyboard. C'mon, cow. We have a hill to climb. There are only a few weeks of the quarter left, and I have a lot of writing to do.