"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, June 29, 2008

Rock Flying

A few days ago while walking Toby along the river bank I made the coolest discovery. If I walk along the tops of the biggest rocks, it feels like I'm flying. After the first  few steps I get some momentum going so I barely touch the tops of the rocks and I become weightless and no longer earthbound.

I have to be careful, to concentrate and to choose the rocks carefully. A loose one will end my flight instantly and could result in a nasty spill and possibly hurt body parts. Silt covered rocks and damp ones have the same potential. The feeling of unrestrained freedom, the complete lifting of my being without effort makes the risk worthwhile, however.

This morning while I was in flight, a rock wobbled underfoot. My mom's voice came suddenly to my ears, loudly as though she were traveling on my shoulder.

"If you get hurt, you'll have no one to blame but yourself."

How many times in my life have I held myself back because of that statement? How many times have I done the safe thing so that I  wouldn't be hurt and so that I couldn't be blamed? How much of the sky have I not seen in my efforts to please the voice that will not be pleased?

My heart voice replied to the  Mommy voice - gently, quietly and firmly. "Hurt happens no matter whether I keep my feet on the ground or whether I soar.  It's not wrong to want to fly. It's what I need to do. So, there will be no blame."

I finished my book on Friday. I was so busy trying to get this draft done before the weekend that I hadn't really focused on the fact that when the printer whirred out the last page it meant I had a real honest-to-goodness book in my hands. The product of a year and a half of work. A title. A subtitle. Chapters. Beginning. Middle. End. 282 pages. A book.

When I took it to the store to have one copy made to share with one trusted soul, the man helping me seemed impressed by the size of the stack of papers I handed him.

"This a book?"

"Yes. I just finished it this afternoon."

"You wrote this? Are you a writer?"

"Yup." I'm smiling big.

"You somebody famous?"

"Not yet." I don't think he got that, but I did. The brave words flew out of my mouth without my permission. I would have given them permission if they'd asked.

From the printer to the post office to send my book to that one trusted soul I find myself smiling gently. The line is long and for once, I don't really care. I stand with my precious package held to my chest, kind of hoping someone will ask me what's in it. No one does, but when I finally get to the counter I tell the clerk that my package is a manuscript. She smiles, says, "Congratulations." and ships it cheap - book rate. 

For the rest of the day I occupy the same sky my rock flying takes me to. I am a writer. I wrote a book. No one says, "Who do you think you're fooling?" No one says, "If this doesn't work, you'll have no one but yourself to blame." Nothing matters except that I've accomplished this book. I know the book is not finished.  There's a lot of work ahead, and at least two more drafts to complete. There's sharing the book with more than one person, getting feedback, getting an editor, finding an agent. There's the photo for the back of the book and my outfit for Oprah.  I'm scared by some of what's ahead, by a lot of it if I'm honest, but I am not going to bind myself to the earth to feel safe this time.

Tomorrow I will be flying literally - in a plane, not under my own wing power. I'm leaving for Scotland with a new friend for an adventure of new places, new people and more uncertainty in nine days than I usually allow myself in nine months. I will look for the big rocks to fly across so that I don't miss a single bit of the sky.

Photo by  x-jax-x from Flickr


Jerri said...

Deb. Dear, dear Deb. What an amazing ride you've been on this last year and change. No wonder you feel like you're flying.

You're amazing. And inspiring. And all-around wonderful.

AND you're going to blaze jet trails across the sky, smoke signals for the rest of us to follow.

Congratulations. Traveling mercies. Love. Always love.

Mark Lyons said...

My heart expanded as I read your words and your excitement about your book...about your dream...about your willingness to NOT listen to the voice that say's "you can't". I am so proud of you and share in your excitement. As far as your outfit for Oprah...you'll knock em dead.

I love you.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love this whole post, love the deep thoughts, the revelations, but most of all? Love this: " There's the photo for the back of the book and my outfit for Oprah." You. Me. Shopping. ASAP.

contemporary themes said...

WOW! CONGRATULATIONS! I am so HAPPY for you! I can't wait to read it and to watch you on Oprah. I will record it and show my friends that I KNOW this famous woman. "I call her friend," that's what I'll tell everyone!

So very happy for you.

Have a wonderful trip!

Marian said...

oh Deb, your post is making me cry and cry! Yippee! I could see you flying over those rocks, and at the copy place, and in line at the post office! Oh, it all felt so good, seeing it in my mind's eye.
The thing is...just this afternoon, I was imagining an upcoming conversation with someone who might likely voice their own version of 'only yourself to blame..." (like, 'and you've got nothing to show for it!'). And as I heard myself saying that out loud ( I do rehearse these kinds of conversations sometimes!)...another part of me said ...'well, I may not have any *money* to show for it but I have so many other things to show for what I have chosen to do with my time and circumstances...'. And it felt good to find that ally here inside me. I'm turning up the volume on her voice! She can sing with you-- a duet of praise and affirmation.
Thanks so much and enjoy Scotland, ye fair lassie!

Deb Cushman said...

Deb, I'm so happy for you! You did it! (as I always knew you would!) Can't wait to read it and watch you on Oprah -- and for you to tell Oprah how much you appreciated all of the support your book group provided :-)
Have fun in Scotland!

Lola said...

Enjoy your trip!
You deserve it.
BTW the OPRAH show loves the colour RED

Jess said...

Congratulations! How very very exciting. I hope you have a wonderful trip and can just be with how much you have accomplished.

The jumping on rocks brought me back to the way I loved to do that when I was little. A good reminder...

I can't wait to see what you and Carrie pick out on your shopping trip!

Unknown said...

WOW!!! That's awesome!!

kario said...

I love that you can answer your mother these days. Especially that you can answer her softly, gently, and firmly.

I love that you finished your manuscript and told strangers about it.

I love that you're in Scotland finding adventure.

I love that I never know what's coming next.

Love you!