Week 1 of my sabbatical – it’s always the same, and yet I’m never prepared for that. Not sure what that says about me, except that maybe I’m a slow learner. Or maybe I’m just human.
Life is so full these days. I’d say it’s because we’re in start-up on Creating the Future, but who am I kidding – we’re all always in start-up on something, even if it’s just starting a new project, a new day, a new school for the kids. We’re all busy as hell, rushing from doing to doing, from “I have no time to think” to “I have no time to pee.”
Then, suddenly, it’s July 1. Time for my sabbatical. Time to let the book that has been occupying a huge amount of space in my head escape that tiny cavern and explode onto paper. Time to feel the freedom that comes from reclaiming that cavern for other things, even if it’s just being present to a whole TED talk without jotting down thoughts it is bringing up for the book.
Unfortunately, this is what it really sounds like around my house for that first few days: “I can’t write! I can’t even think! Nothing is working! I can’t figure out what to do first!” And what it looks like is me roaming from room to room, bouncing pinball-like between bumpers of “What am I doing?” and “This will never work!”
It happens every year, and this year has been no different. Last Monday, I was recording a video that took me 5 neurotic days to write and rewrite and rethink and start over. Then magically, on Tuesday, I was supposed to be in writing bliss.
Instead I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday bouncing aimlessly, chastising at every turn, beating myself up, and then beating myself up for beating myself up. This is your time to write! You only have 2 months! Get to work. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????
Then Thursday night, I breathed in, and on the out breath, I laughed. I wrote the words, “Oh you silly girl” in my journal.
I then proclaimed, with the dog as my witness, “It is Thursday night. You are not allowed to write until next Friday. Not a word. Not an outline. Nothing.”
And so for the past few days, I’ve been getting ready. Putting things in order – the house, the piles of projects I would love to get to in the time when I am not writing. The sewing pile, broken down into “patch and repair” and “make a new outfit” – something I only make time for every few years or so. The “tackle Lizzie’s room” pile – a seemingly endless project to figure out what to do with the massive amount of stuff still left in the room Lizzie left when she graduated high school in 2004 (leaving all her worldly possessions in my care for what is now 8 years and counting). The garden pile – things to plant, things to weed, things to compost.
Lists of office chores that still, despite my best intentions, need to be done. Lists of things I want to write, prioritized (finally). Lists of people I want to see during this “time off.” Lists of movies I want to see. Lists of lists I want to create (We all have our quirks – I totally own this one).
And today, having prepared the physical space, I feel finally ready to prepare that tiny cavern inside my head – the space that is responsible for everything that will happen in the next two months.
I will sit in meditation 3 times today, 3 times tomorrow, 3 times until I have moved from the crazed doing machine to the writer who is ready to write. I will walk, weather permitting, breathing in the present moment, breathing out the wish that all beings know peace.
And this Friday, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will take keyboard in hand, and I will begin to write.
Photos are all my shots: 1) Freemantle, Western Australia 2010 2) St. Louis, MO 2008 3) Kansas City, MO 2010