"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Healing Steps



For weeks I found reasons not to walk. Good ones. The weather was hideous. It was too dark when I got home from work. I had things to do in the house that took priority. I refused to give credit to the real reason: it simply hurt too much. I wasn't ignoring the pain. In fact many of the nights I got home too late to walk I was at appointments trying to ameliorate the pain. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, an injection in my hip eased the pain so much that walking suddenly became appealing again. Ironically, the weather got better and the days are longer, so all barriers seemed to be removed all at once.

The same thing happened with my writing, with my willingness to get to that vulnerable place where my muse lives. Lots of good reasons not to come here. The busy-ness of ending a school year. The focus on my physical pain. The deep fatigue of grief. It tell myself I can't blog because I don't have time to read other people's blogs, and it wouldn't be fair. I tell myself I can't work on my book because I still don't have a good frame. I tell myself it doesn't matter. I tried. Maybe I had the wrong dream.

Yet the real reason for not writing is the same as the reason I stopped walking: it simply hurts too much.

Somehow I've lost the dream, the energy, the hope - the light that kept me moving through all that's happened in the last couple of years. Like the pain in my hip, it was a gradual loss, a slow decay from complete painless freedom to pain-frozen imprisonment.

As the demands of teaching took every bit of my energy, the physical pain made renewal impossible, and a couple of writing classes left me feeling like I'd been fooling myself all along about my abilities as a writer - the dream flickered into darkness.

I wander the woods with Toby again. Every curve of the trail both familiar and new. The rush of the river a welcome back song. Small gift offerings appear: three hooded mergansers feeding along the bank, one with a fish in its beak; shadowy swoopings at the fringes of owl meadow; surprise spots of vivid color - wildflowers flourishing in random splashes of sunlight. Toby comes back to me frequently, unusual behavior for him, as though he's encouraging me. Come on, Mom. You can do it. Isn't this fun?

Every walk is a test. Will the pain return at the end? Will I be able to walk tomorrow? So far the answer is yes to both questions. But the pain seems to be the pain of rebuilding, not the pain of destruction. And walking tomorrow becomes more and more a priority. I go whether the sun shines or not, whether I'm tired or not. Toby is eager to go no matter what, and I borrow his energy often to get me started. Once moving, reveling in my body's fragile fluidity, and the cathedral we travel through, I could walk forever.

And so today I don my writer cloak, enter the place of blazing brightness where my muse waits patiently, and I write. I begin to reshape my dream, which at its very foundation is about writing and nothing else. When I walk, I don't go expecting any specific magic, but I always receive some gift of magic along the way. At the very least the thrill of my own moving body. Perhaps it's time to write not expecting anything specific, but to trust that the magic is there waiting for me. To believe in the dream one word at a time.




27 comments:

JenniferL said...

Welcome back. You were missed.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh yes, the magic is there. This is really beautiful. It's well written, and more important it is filled with honesty, discovery, hope, and wonderful insights that will enlighten everyone who reads it.

Terri Tiffany said...

It is so good to read your words again. I've missed you. I could have written this post--it's me--I haven't written for months because it was too painful to write. I stopped blogging because I didn't have the energy to post on others' blogs.
But last week, after months of emptiness, I found myself writing again. Like you I thought I couldn't that I had been fooling myself thinking I could and then...I submitted 4 articles and an ms to an agent.
So glad your energy is coming back!

Retired English Teacher said...

I have missed you. I hoped you were well, and I was sorry to hear you were struggling with pain in your hip. It is good to read you are walking, and in doing so, discovering a part of yourself that had been lost for a time.

Teaching takes mental and physical energy out of the teacher in ways those who have never taught will never understand. I understand your increased brain drain due to pain and grief.

The past five months have some of the most difficult of my life due to the same reasons you have struggled through.

We are survivors, you and I. Your voice is strong and beautiful. You will be singing a new song, one that a resonance that would not be there if you had not experienced what you have. The dream is there. The words will come.

Linda Myers said...

Welcome back. Your writing is so evocative, regardless of the topic.

DJan said...

I for one love your writing. It's filled with such grace, and I am always moved. Welcome home, friend. I hope you stay pain free and motivated to share your thoughts. I've missed you, but I didn't realize it until I read this.

deborahjbarker said...

So glad you are back Deb. Always a pleasure to read your words be they happy or sad or simply an honest account such as this. Wishing you many more pain-free walks with Toby and a return to the muse with or without magic.

Mark Lyons said...

Thank you for sharing the magic and power in the gift you have. I love finding new words on this blog when I come visit. I'm looking forward to a lot more.

I love you Sis

Mark

Stacy Crawford said...

I'm glad your back friend. I missed you!

Barb said...

Dear Deb, I think to move forward with no expectations is perfect (but not always easy). You have a writer's soul. It is who you are. No use denying it, my friend. Soon - summer, warmth, rest, a new beginning. Hope your hip continues to feel pain-free. PS Don't visit me - write for yourself instead!

Wanda..... said...

I agree with our mutual friend Barb...no need for you to visit my blog either, for me to come here, Deb. My oldest granddaughter shares the same dream and gift of writing.

Journaling Woman said...

I'm glad you're giving it another try. And just think, if you don't put on the writer cloak, you won't see us. :)

T

yaya said...

I'm not a writer but I love reading..and your blog is one of the things I love to read. Don't give up on that dream...I feel your gift across the blogging land! I'm glad you got a shot for the hip. I had one a couple of years ago and haven't had the pain again in the hip. So I hope you can keep on walking and enjoy this summer when things will slow down a bit for you. Hang in there, we all love you!

Richard said...

It's difficult to do anything when you're in pain, physical or emotional. Finding relief from pain is a joy in itself. All the other stuff is extras.

Dee said...

Dear Deb, as others have already said, reading another post from you is a gift from the Universe today. Remember the lines from the Book of Ecclesiasticus: "For everything there is a season." And yes, you have been passing through the fallow season. But deep down in the rich soil of your own soul the words have taken root. That in itself is a blessing. Peace.

Amber said...

Oh friend, no wonder you have been so on my mind. But summer is just around the corner, and you will feel some extra warmth, and have the time to sit, write, walk, heal... These past years have been hard, through the fire, years. A couple of bitches, these years have been.

But you made it. You're still making it. Who cares how? You are here.

And I still adore you, so. Yeah. you got that. ;)

:)

Lilith said...

You're not the only one. I haven't been writing much either, for various reasons. I miss it and it's hard to find the time.

Keep walking, it's good for the body and the soul:)

kario said...

Oh.
You're back.
I am so relieved. I have been missing your piercing insights, tempered with love and light.

I hope that this cycle of self-doubt and timidity has served to teach you something that will help you move forward into writing and walking and living with the fierce courage you have inside you.

Just in case you need to hear it: you are a tremendous writer. I have faith that when you decide to dip your toe back in the water, it will surround you with a comfort and a completeness that shows you the way forward.

Love.

Jerri said...

So very, very happy to see you here again. All blessings to you as you walk and write and live your way into the answers.

Michelle Longo said...

Your post was great! I was glad to see a post from you in my feed. Sometimes there are rough patches. I'm glad you found your way back to writing. I hope your physical pain eases.

Sandi said...

Oh Deb, what a thrill to see your blog in my roll . . . has it been a week since I've looked?? I didn't see it earlier. I can't keep track anymore. I know the bone weary aching tiredness of which you speak. But, oh, how I've missed you!

Do dreams come true? Not usually, and not on their own. Little of what I've dreamed of has come true, but the gifts instead, of what came instead, sustain me.

Writers must write; walkers must walk . . . despite, or perhaps because of, the pain.

I stumbled across the most enchanting garden shop in Multnomah yesterday and thought, "I need to bring Deb here!" It was nearly missed, so unobtrusive, I walked by it twice before even noticing it! The tiny shop was filled with fun thing, but slipping into the backyard I discovered a fairy land. I had to buy plants!

Looking forward to exchanging traveling stories once we're both back home this summer!

Much love and big hugs to you.

hg said...

It's lovely to read you again, Deb! Keep going. Keep going. Keep going!

Kathryn Grace said...

Believe in the dream one word at a time. Indeed. Thank you for continuing to write, no matter how long the spaces. If you cannot read all of us, no matter. Let us read you. May healing continue.

Pam said...

Deb, I have missed you.
I have discovered the Pulitzer prize-winning author Carol Shields, beginning with The Stone Diaries and am now reading Unless. For me, she resonnates so well with emotions that we grapple with as life throws some hefty things our way. It means so much to me to read her words, as it does yours also.
I wonder if you have read anything by Shields.
Sorry to hear you were struggling with pain in your hip, and god bless Toby for his role in your healing. With my family I've had some big scares thrown my way lately, and our dear little cat, and Shields have kept me sane. I too decided to try walking and the cat keeps me company like a dog!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"Perhaps it's time to write not expecting anything specific,"

I think this is very wise. As a struggler myself, I have not forced the issue. Now, with school out and some issues resolved, there seems to be a new energy. At least today, anyway Can't say about tomorrow.

Lovely post, Deb. And when you take those writing classes and feel like you don't have it (I hate that feeling) dismiss it. Dismiss it.

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Those words have touched me deeply because I often find myself there lately. I make the same excuses.
Please keep on trying. I shall too.

Wanda said...

So sorry for your pain. So glad to read your words again.