Tag Archives: freedom

At Sea

I can’t leave my house today because the road is closed. It feels like an at-sea day.  (Non-cruise-loving travelers, allow me to explain.) On cruises, the trip revolves around the places of port – the journey’s milestones where everyone on the boat files off, spends 8 hours stimulating the local economy, then clambers back on board in time to sleep and wake up somewhere else.  I’ve been on two cruises – lesbian cruises (which is a blog post for another day) – and to me the best days were the at-sea days.  The days between ports, when the boat was our unavoidable container and there was nowhere to go. (Would you hate being stuck on a boat with 2,000 lesbians?)

Knowing my options are limited is a great relief to my system. It’s getting the prix fixe dinner vs. the insurmountable 32 page book-of-a-menu at that Chinese place. No angsty deciding. No contending with constant imaginings of all the things I could be doing if I wasn’t here. So I’ve been counting down the hours today, not with “when can I leave?” but with “how many more do I get?”

I wish I could say I was rapidly spiritually evolving with this poignant reminder that accepting limitation is so freeing.  In reality, my distractions today have only downsized to the 10 million things I can/ need to do in my house.  What next?  Work?  Yoga?  Organize the scary cabinet?  Write the next great American novel?  Nap?  Make cookies?   Someone in me is hoping there’s someone else in me who’s in charge of these matters.  It’s a little disappointing then when I get the typical response: “uh….let’s check Facebook while we decide.” Irretrievable hours of my life later, I’m back at the beginning and I’m contemplating how social media has successfully replaced TV as my unconscious time-waster of choice.  (At least it’s interactive and about people I (usually) know and care about.)

What’s true is today has been exactly like most days.  I spend the bulk of it sitting and staring at a lit-up rectangle.  The sun comes and goes, and I’m alternately 1) doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself, 2) avoiding doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself or 3) thinking about the limitless array of things I’d do if only I didn’t have to house and feed myself.

At least I didn’t lose those five minutes toying with the notion of driving down to get my mail and a mocha, which is the other favorite thing I do to keep me from having to sit still.  And I’m seeing a little more clearly how often I scan for that delicious distraction that will keep me from focusing on my heart’s desire  – and ultimately, from the full measure of success and fulfillment that I know is available to me.

It’s November, and I decided at the beginning of the month to again attempt the ridiculous and totally do-able endeavor of writing 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo. It’s November 21st, and I’m at 5,348 words.  Another day of another year, and my prize is seeing how relentlessly I avoid doing what I want to do.

My house is littered with messages to remind and encourage me.  I get wonderful pep-talk emails twice a week.  I am haunted by self-help book titles, like Mary Goldenson’s It’s Time: No One is Coming to Save You.  I made a poster and stuck it on the wall by my bed that says in big letters: There Is No Time To Waste.

And.

I have apparently not seen what I do enough yet.  I have not felt unsatisfied enough yet to turn my seeing into change.  Getting to enough is key.  And remembering enough, even more so.  I don’t believe anymore that simple laziness is to blame for keeping our dreams out of reach.  It’s habits, usually super attractive, unconscious habits that strap us in the comfy chair, and desperation that pushes us out.  We only shift when we have to.

Of course, saving ourselves is ultimately up to us. But help is useful. Friends are good. I think we should start a friends-don’t-let-friends-get-complacent campaign.  I think we should make interventions a daily practice and the ultimate sign of friendship. Not interventions of shame but of the ultimate care – the care for our soul’s wellbeing. I think we should make explicit our real goals and ask our friends to help hold us accountable  – to check in on us, call us out and shine light on our excuses, even when we kick and scream (which we will.)

I don’t know how this would work.  Phone check-in’s? A website? Written contracts? Maybe I’m the only one who wants this.  Am I the only one?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

As of four minutes ago, the road is officially open again, so you can come on over and brainstorm.  Maybe I’ll make cookies.

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Filed under invitations, lisa goettel, writing

Moving, Electing, Noveling.

Oh my, my.  I moved today, for the 14th time since July (but who’s counting.)  And I am living in America, a country I am proud to live in for the first time in 8 long, long years.  And I am many thousands of words behind in my novel-writing word count, but am having a fantastic time now, after days of less than fantasticness.

** Moving **

I am learning the art of moving gracefully and painlessly.  I am not yet to a place of enthusiasm.  But I am grateful.  Grateful for having so many amazing friends who have extended their homes to me whenever I need them.  I am grateful for living rent-free for 4 and-a-half months.  I am grateful for the awesome realization of freedom that hit me at 4:00 today, that I could pick up and drive anywhere on the continent and make a life there, right now. I am grateful for getting rid of things, slowly, with each move, and I don’t miss any of them.  (I can’t even remember them.)

** OH! BAMA! **

Speaking of grateful… although truth be told, ecstatic is the better word.  Or ebullient, giddy or glee-filled.  AMEN! HALLELUJAH! AMEN! (this is being sung by a big gospel choir in my head.)

I watched the returns come in Tuesday, accidentally, down at Esalen with the only person I know in Big Sur who is as big of a political junkie as I am.  We shook and laughed and cried and screamed and sat quietly and hugged. (Thank you, J.)  This was followed by a trip down to the local pub where there was much dancing and whooping. The profundity of this decision sunk in only after the fact: a black man, a black man with integrity and heart, a black man with courage and humility and vision and presence and grace, has been elected President of the United States by the majority of Americans.  I can’t decide which is more impossible to believe: that Obama actually won, or that whole states of people out there voted for Sarah Palin.

I am learning what it feels like to be represented(!) and what it’s like to be in the majority(!).  I am finding myself two degrees more courageous since Tuesday.  I am just a little bit more willing to risk hoping.  And I am reveling in discovering that just a little bit is so, so big.

** Writing Novels **

All I can do is sigh, with pity for this little human that I am.  This ambitious and earnest and fragile little person.  On Wednesday, I still didn’t have any vision for my story.  I was writing disjointed fragments and as quickly as I wrote them I hated them.  I hated my characters, my lack of a plot or vision, this whole big dumb idea of writing a novel.  I stared at my screen for one whole hour without writing one whole word.  I got up and ate chocolate and drank wine. I sat down to write again and fell asleep instead.  I woke up and walked around slamming doors.

It was about this time that a little voice whispered in my ear, saying “This is why you signed up for this. Right now. This.

I looked up an e-mail that I got from my super bestest novel-writing mentor ever, P, in the week before the NaNoWriMo started.   I had relayed my anxiety to her about the whole thing and she offered this response.  (She offered a complete list of points a thru i, but I only needed to read to d, this time. Hope you don’t mind me sharing, P.)  She writes:

oh, i hear you, sister friend. i hear you.

and i hope that you will:

a. give yourself permission to write the worst crap ever. like, seriously awful crap.

b. and that for a while it bothers you, how much crap you’re slinging. that you start to wonder if you have any business at all writing.

c. and i hope that when that happens (because it will) you keep writing.

d. and after you keep writing even though you hate everything coming out of you, that you start to think it’s fun and silly and awesome (because you will and it is).

It was the two degrees of relief and hope and trust that I needed to start writing again.  I haven’t stopped since.  I am still way behind the word count I should be at, but I don’t much care.

If you fancy reading the occasional, random excerpt, I’m posting them at:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/425881 (Click “Novel Info”)

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Filed under life, politics, writing