On Showing Up

I’m having one of those weeks that seems to fly by, yet drags at the same time. Yesterday, I spent all day on the couch, in the dark, waiting out a migraine. However, I also inadvertently made french onion soup for dinner last night, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

I find that I bury myself in meaningless pursuits when I’m stuck like I am now. I play games on my phone, trawl Facebook, and use my moments of productivity to putter around the house, dusting and washing and rearranging. There’s nothing inherently bad about taking care of the space I live in, but when it gets in the way of the real, capital w, Work, it becomes a problem. I know that when I work – create, edit, revise, translate – my health improves. Even so, it is like pulling teeth to bring myself to the table some days and get anything done.

This reminds me of a scene from my favorite movie, Spirited Away. In this particular scene, the heroine has to serve a river guardian who has become so clogged with pollution that it has transformed into an enormous stink spirit. It is only through her dogged determination that she discovers the ‘thorn’ in its side. With the help of her friends, she pulls it loose, releasing a torrent of garbage and freeing the river guardian, who departs in a blast of water, laughing.

This is how my creative blockage feels: if I were to pull out the thorn, it would unleash the million little demons I’ve worked so hard to pack away. Perhaps, like the river guardian, I would then be free to move and laugh and pursue my purpose. What if, on the other hand, the demons defeat me? What if the garbage has piled too high for me to climb out from under it? So I hesitate, needling my thorn, unwilling to sit with the discomfort.

It strikes me as funny that I would rather endure my physical pain than face my emotional pain. I know that moving through and processing those things that I’m hiding from myself would relieve my migraine symptoms, but I don’t do it.

I remember something my dad always says: you cannot succeed unless you show up. So my goal for now is just to show up every day at my desk. If I spend eight hours staring at a blank page, that’s better than eight hours of avoiding the emptiness of that blank page entirely. Maybe sitting with the page will help me get more comfortable with the idea of opening up onto it.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Carrie says:

    you find out so much when you write and it’s not as bad as it seems when you get to “it”. It always seems bigger before you start, from the outside. you can do it!!

    Liked by 1 person

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