Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Slow Day

Ellie came back from her morning walk with her friend Nancy and told me, as we were getting breakfast together, that they had been talking about me behind my back--specifically about their mutual perception that I am always in a rush, always feeling the pressure to move on, and often so impatient to get the job done that the job gets done more hastily than it should be. I need, they decided for me, more time for the poetry in my writing--not necessarily poems, but just the poetry.

I get what they mean. I know this about myself, and have struggled with this pattern for years. It's an old story, a bit boring at this point and familiar to anyone who has followed my writing over the years, because I have returned to it on more than one occasion. I first became consciously aware of this reactive pattern at a "Write For Your Life" workshop led by the writer Lawrence Block. In a process designed to uncover the "Big Lie" that holds us back from the full power of our creative potential, Larry nudged a memory of my near-strangulation at birth by the umbilical cord and the resultant, unconscious conviction that "I have no right to be here." I had been hurrying away from everything ever since--from academic jobs, from writing, from relationships, from social events. It was always time to leave, time to be done with it, time to move on.

So it was no surprise to hear it again. Though I have struggled mightily to remain conscious of the pattern, and despite years of meditation focused on the here and now, I'm aware that I slip back into it all too easily. Even this blog, though I write in it virtually every day, bears the stamp of my impatience. It offers me the opportunity to get it said fast and move on to the next thing to be taken care of. It's not often that I linger over a thought or image, or allow myself to delve too long or deep into its meaning. I started out, as a writer, as a poet. I even published, early on, two books of poems. But I didn't stick with it, did not allow myself the mental space and time to fully develop that potential. I moved on.

So I took my time yesterday. I did not do much. Sat around a lot, and tried to pay attention every time the urge to be doing something, to be doing the next thing, took over. It's not new, what Ellie relayed to me from her conversation with Nancy, but that fact makes it no less important to listen to.

More poetry, eh? We'll see....


Anne Stone said...

Bravo, Peter! It sounds as though you are doing just the right thing. And thanks for getting me thinking about what I do that takes me away from being grounded and centered in my life.

miiyaknoll said...

Why change Peter? Are you uncomfortable with your continued determination or is your wife? Maybe she may need to be the one to let go and let be. Just a woman's thoughts.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Anne. The best thing I can hear, as a writer, is that my words have found a resonance in someone else's life.

Thanks, too, Miiyaknoll. But I see my wife's thoughts as constructive and supportive, not as critical or oppositional. It was my impatience and haste she was referring to, not my determination.