Procrastination's a bitch. In this case, procrastination's also sort of a wimpy word for the funky stuck feeling I've battled this month every time I open my laptop to write a new blog post. Procrastination's a wimpy bitch.
This stuckness isn't the result of a lack of inspiration. I've made it to my mat every day--in several different cities, in an eclectic mix of studios, in many different moods, enjoying numerous yoga epiphanies and moments of delicious connection. I've had to consciously limit the number of times a day I start sentence with the phrase, "it's just like in yoga..." so as not to alienate or annoy the non-yogis in my life. There's no lack of richness, no ebb in insight. I'm still pretty madly in love.
But when I travel my love and insight back to my computer and try to get them on the record, I start and stop over and over, do laundry and dust and come up with endless tasks to half-distract
What's the cure for stuckness? Well apparently it's not effort or guidelines or any practical, left-brained strategies. Believe me--I tried. Lists and freewrites and textbook prompts in this case felt fear-based and outcome driven, when what I really wanted was to get back to that place of absorption and flow--to enjoy each morsel of language, narrative, reflection--just for the beauty of it, just for the moment of it. Somewhere along the way, something in me had started worrying about getting it "right"--whatever that means. Future and past entered in, along with my need to control and predict--Where is this headed? Where does it end? Am I being redundant? Somebody somewhere has already said all of this better--who am I to think my experience is important enough for cyberspace?
Oh sweet, neurotic little brain. In the midst of so much fun and beauty, what a mess you can dream up. And what predictable solutions: as penance for my recent lack of productivity, I told myself, I should obviously hole up in my apartment for the weekend and get down to business. Which is why I felt especially frivolous and irresponsible when I met Courtney at the bar mid-day on Saturday instead.
So okay. Experts and responsible adults and, er, mental health professionals would not necessarily recommend the consumptions of alcohol as a method for moving forward. It's not an empirically valid or reliable intervention--we can all agree on that. But in the case of Saturday, day drinking was the hospitable environment for the breakthrough, the enjoyable journey from stuck to unstuck, from funky blues to gratitude.
As is often the case with soul mates, I know when I've gone too long without a Courtney fix. It's something like the way all of us Michiganders feel these days, with April around the corner and snow still on the ground. So a little Courtney rendezvous at The Elbow Room was the impetus for some blocked-spot-thawing--deep dark places inside me lit up just seeing her face. The winter in me started to feel a little springy.
Over veggie burgers and Labatt draughts, we meandered through chit chat and found ourselves settling in and beginning to till some spiritual soil, readying ourselves for springtime despite the scene outside: cold wind, grey sky, piles and piles of dirty snow. Something about drinking beer in the daytime made faith both a little bit easier and a little less necessary--this moment of being slightly tipsy and very talkative and getting our metaphorical hands in the dirt would not shrink or expand with the whim of weather--let spring come or not; we'll cultivate beauty and pleasure right here. And maybe we'll also have an extra side of fries.
It's just like in yoga.
Before the afternoon buzz, in Saturday morning vinyasa at Seva, the instructor Melissa said something I'd heard before, but which struck a different chord in me, an assertive pay-attention! chord this time: Don't worry about what comes next, she said to the class full of yogis bent into chair pose. This is it. Be here. Don't predict, just breathe, feel. Don't miss this!
Because this is when healing happens: now. This is where creativity happens: here. This is what we have for sure: Just this moment, just this breath. Just two friends in a green vinyl booth doing drinking beers and tilling soil, simply for the feeling of getting a little dirt on our hands, just for the springtime smell of turned earth and the good company.
It's been a hard winter. It was hard from the get-go, watching summer fade so fast and knowing the allegory of autumn might never feel as poignant or as true: seasons change. Everything will always change. This is the flow. Biopsy, uncertainty, surgery, uncertainty, recovery, uncertainty, chemo, uncertainty, radiation, uncertainty--the poses that Courtney learned by heart the hard way. I won't pretend to know how that felt--that part's her story to tell. Meanwhile, the rest of us bent our bodies into shapes like Helpless and Powerless, Guilty, Lost, Inadequate. Some days were frenzied, flurried. Some days were very, very still.
It was a hard winter, all those times we were waiting to breathe.
But this is absolutely just as true: it was a beautiful gift, learning to breathe through the waiting. Learning to be right there in each difficult pose without knowing what came next. And how inspiring, what an incredible blessing to stand next to Courtney as she settled in, leaned in to each pose with amazing grace and stamina. This is it. Don't miss this!
So on a Saturday afternoon, when the moment comes in the shape of a bartender saying, the first one was on the house, you don't remind yourself of the blank page waiting at home for your creative attention or lecture yourself on the virtues of staying sober until at least after lunchtime. You order another round and keep playing in the dirt. This is all there is.
And like so much of what I learn these days, this is also a paradox. Because the more presence we bring to the booth and the moment, the more sense we make out of what has already happened, and the more space we make for what comes next. Stories are unearthed, artifacts that belong above ground, and this loosens up the places where future roots will grow deeper. We clear all sorts of brush out of the way--questions and confusion, fear and regret--and in this way we make space for the sun to reach the hardier sprouts, the stuff worth keeping like bravery and gratitude.
And then there's grief in some moments, too. Grief like some sort of jet-fueled farming combine, combing through layers of dirt and debris--the remains of old harvests, the spent husks of past lives. Not to weed out these losses. To integrate them. Yup. Even the dead stuff stays in a way--it's fertilizer.
The soil gets richer, the story evolves, and it all happens right here & now--in this case in a booth with some beers. I was wrong when I thought I should be someplace else--sitting at my laptop or doing some diligent brainstorming. Guilt and shoulds and reprimands only served to carry me further away from being present--and presence is always the access point, the only place where hand or plough connect with earth. This one breath, this one pose contains exactly what's needed, exactly the right amount of nutrients, water and sunlight to support growth--limitless growth! Fruit the size of your face growth! This one moment can yield blossoms as huge as a whole life! Pay attention. Lean in. This is it! Don't miss it!