I woke up early this morning and watched the sun come up. Brett has been out of town with his grandmother this week so I dropped Boo off at school and came home and took a cat nap. I watched Sense and Sensibility. And read a magazine. Then I watched a documentary about people that live in Siberia.*
Later I made some tea, sat on the step of the screen porch. The acorns were falling on the tin roof of the cottage. I watched Diesel walk around the stepping stones. So much to learn from a dog…he is so easily pleased. His short time outdoors is always unhurried and full of curiosity. I love how he sniffs the air and closes his eyes against the sun. I copied him.
It felt good, until there was that anxiousness and the voice in my head: you should be accomplishing something. That voice that has been there all my life: you should be…. you should be…. This feeling still rears its ugly head on occasion and sometimes a brief panic sets in saying: Your husband left his job. You closed a successful business. Where will you go from here? By the world’s standards of success I should have stayed on the course I was on. It’s hard to explain this new life to people without getting the third degree.
The highlights of my week last week were:
Sweeping the sidewalk at the used bookstore. Dusting and straightening the bookshelves.
Catching up with the cooks at the inn.
Learning the old man’s name that I pass in the park each week.
Buying a venus fly trap and fresh salsa from the farmer’s market.
Sitting by the river and writing it all down.
Such simple things. But yet…every once in a while I get sidetracked with new ideas, things that I think will impress the world. Business. Venture. Make the world happy. Those things are not really what I want to be doing. I know myself….and I would work myself into a shriveled shell of a me if I pursued those new ideas. And that’s when I pray really hard for God to thin my world out again, to take away what he doesn’t want for me…and to leave breadcrumbs going forward.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. –The Alchemist
The magazine I picked up today had an interview with Paulo Coehlo in it. Breadcrumb.
I do believe that we know our reason to be here. We don’t know if we are taking the exact right steps toward it. But if you are honest enough, God will guide you. Even if you take some wrong steps along the way, God will recognize that you have a pure heart and put you back on track. -Paulo Coehlo, O Magazine, Oct 2014
I remember when I first picked up a copy of the Alchemist years ago…at a yard sale. I didn’t read it right away. Quick overview if you haven’t read it: A boy sells his flock to pursue a dream.
A recent conversation:
Person: What do you do?
Me: Well….mostly….I write.
Person: My friend is a writer. She’s published like 10 books. Have you written anything I would know?
Me: Probably not.
Person: And you are writing a book?
Me: I think so.
Person: How far along are you?
Me: Depends on the day.
Person: What is it about?
Me: It’s a memoir.
Person: You are too young to write a memoir.
Quick aside: My friend Donno is opening up a tattoo parlor in downtown Bryson City this month. It’s part art gallery…for outsider art. Outsider art: a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by those on the outside of the established art scene, such as insane-asylum inmates and children. –wikipedia
Quick epiphany (and breadcrumb): I am an outsider writer!
Person: Too young…to write a memoir.
Me: Then I guess I’m writing an episode.
Person: How long have you been writing it?
Me: My whole life?
Memoir. Non-fiction. Episode. True story. What does it matter? The dream is: to write. But it’s more than just writing. To write things down so I can make sense of it all. To be truly interested in the world around me. To tell a story. And maybe someday it will be meaningful to someone else. That’s what the breadcrumbs lead me to. And they guide me away from things I thought might be opportunities, allowing me to say no without fear or regret.
Sitting here today I looked out the window at the mountains. They are like sleeping giants to me, some lying on the side and curled up. Others are laying on their backs so you can see their distinct profiles. Sleeping giants covered with a blanket of trees and brush, and I see elbows and knees and foreheads and noses. Nobby clavicles and shoulder blades poke through a thick blanket millions of years in the making. Growth, decay, and growth. The mountains are living and breathing but barely stirring, in a state of hibernation, and they laugh at us with our tiny concerns. They laugh at me when I think my 37 years of life has been hard or easy or nothing or something.
Mountain: An episode? Ha ha ha ha. That’s 100,000 years.
Me: To what?
Mountain: Your heart.
Me: You are a talking mountain.
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity. -The Alchemist
I listen. I have to train myself to listen. And tune everything else out. Like the boy I sold my “flock” too. I know what my assignment is: To wander. And read. And write. And create. Lather, lather, rinse, repeat. The more I do this, the less I think about what might have been or should have been. I find my own voice. I let myself watch movies and read and just sit in solitude for a while. I meet new people and actually hold conversations with them. These things are not lucrative…they will not put me on the cover of Fast Company or get me promoted….but they are food for my soul. I cannot have it all, but I don’t want it all. This is the ultimate promotion.
And not everyone will understand. The questions are endless. Health insurance? Life insurance? Insurance? How will you make a living? What is a living? These are all the rules. I’ve been reading Intimations of Mortality by Violet Weingarten….a journal she wrote during her battle with cancer. My copy is old and obviously from a library with the clear plastic cover and dewey decimal code: 616.994:
I live in a world, my world, with people who haven’t even glimpsed the door, however close they may be to me. Remember you have to see it with your own eyes. Borrowing someone else’s glasses won’t do it. So even if I wanted to change my life, the people I care about aren’t going to change theirs. If I want to toss it all away and scuba-dive off the Great Barrier Reef, I’d have to do it on my own, and that I don’t want to do. Because I know that the step from the iceberg leads back to an ice floe, and on that floe I’ll float, like everyone else, sometimes alone, sometimes along-side, sometimes making small talk, sometimes holding hands, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, always at the whim of the current. Human. Wherever I may be.
Always at the whim of the current. An outsider.
For some reason that just made me think of the movie Rumble Fish.
I’m too tired to even read through this post again.
I just ate half a bag of Muddy Buddies.
Really all I wanted to say was: today was a good day.
I wish good days for you too.
And don’t disturb the mountains. They are all resting.
*Happy People, A Year in the Taiga (* <—— virtual breadcrumb)