"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.