The next number of posts, all titled Conversations on… come from email communications between a dear friend and me. With her permission, I am publishing excerpts from them because I feel they pertain to everything we’ve been discussing on the blog. Kate has been in the process of trying to figure out how to be a writer and still maintain her teaching job. She has very recently decided she must leave her job and fully embrace a “writing life.” At her request I’ve changed her name and am using initials for people she brings up. Those of you who have not read any of the earlier Conversation pieces, may want to go back to have a better understanding of Kate’s progress. You’ll find her story under the topic category, “Kate’s Story.” It’d be great if you all would join our conversation…
In no way do I hear you as mocking or harsh. I am completely comfortable with your full honesty and direct feelings and thoughts, no matter what. I also appreciate your insights, coming from familiar experiences that give you a particular understanding of the way I am reacting to the situations that I am encountering. I deeply appreciate all that and can’t even tell you how much.
I think you are right about the money fears. All these things that have developed recently have caused many unanticipated expenses, and I do feel very insecure about those and the things that we have to take care of in the weeks and months ahead, regardless of all these current new expenses. I hear you about needing to relax about all that and trust that we will manage. I know that this is one of Julia Cameron’s big points too, and very important, one of those easier-said-than-done issues. But you are right, and I know it, despite the difficulty I’m having.
About the garden, all the hardest labor is already done. I had to amend the soil, and that was the most labor-intensive work, which seemed to be therapeutic at the time, giving me something physically satisfying and fully engaging to do for a clear and well-defined goal, just as I was transitioning from my job to life without it. At the time it was—or felt like—a way to clear my head and create something that would offer rewards and satisfaction on many levels for a long time, as well as provide food for us. All that heavy work done, I was waiting for the crops to be ready to harvest, which is not labor intensive, and literally a few days after we had reached the harvesting point for a large portion of what I had labored so hard on, the critters took all the best that was at its peak of readiness. My work in the garden has always felt like a healing activity to me. All that said, yes, maybe I need to take a different approach and not be so ambitious, especially NOW. I must rethink what is going to happen this season, what is salvageable, what to just let go, and not grieve too much over it. My sense right now, today, is that I need to STOP GRIEVING this thing.
The new problem coming out of all this is concern about preventing further destruction from the same source; even after we remove these woodchucks (which I am still feeling terrible about), more can easily come along. What is required is the right kind of fence to prevent a repeat disaster. So I feel that I have to seriously consider how to accomplish that; however, it is a big job. I have no idea how to address that, but I don’t think I should just jump in and make fence building my new project either. It is time for me to think it through and come up with an answer, maybe a way to take on small pieces over time.
What you said about coming to New Mexico and experiencing a complete shattering of self requiring you to rebuild your sense of who you are from scratch—this rings true to me. We have had so many similar experiences, me following you in a number of ways, through both the painful challenges and some of the positive steps, too. Yes, what I am going through now may be in some ways a similar experience, in which I am being asked to rethink who I am, what is important to me, and how I am in the world, and what I believe in. Each one of the situations that has arisen in the past week has its own role to play in that process, and I have a role to play in deciding how to cooperate with the universe and come up with a meaningful way to move forward. I can’t just sit here and ask what it all means. I need to actively DECIDE what it means and how I can turn it into creative energy that I can direct one way or another, rather than a destructive force (that I imagine to be) acting upon me.
This is the most sense I can make right now of your insights and my reflections—up to now.
Thank you for understanding where I’m coming from. That means a lot to me.
Yes, dealing with our money fears is much easier said than done, I agree. I see the end of my resources and it takes a powerful amount of energy trying not to worry about it. So I have great compassion for this spot you find yourself in.
I agree that, perhaps, it is a time to be less ambitious.
As far as the grieving goes, though, I think you need to grieve until you’re done grieving. The garden is a loss. Your shaken trust in nature is a loss. The shape of your life as you’ve known it is a loss. MF being gone a lot is a loss. The peace and space you thought you were going to have to begin your writing life is a loss. Lyme Disease is a loss of health. Miles’s health situation is a loss. You are in the midst of enormous change and you are facing a ton of loss. Give yourself space and love and time to fully grieve. Be as gentle with yourself as you know how to be. If I were there, I’d make you tea. I’d make you dinner. I’d do the chores. I would listen to you grieve. Know that I’m doing all that from here.
I would like to suggest that you can, indeed, sit there and ask what it all means. I think the Universe is asking you NOT to do anything actively. I think you are being asked to be still and to receive. Some answers can’t be found in any other way than to let them unfold. As Rilke says, “… have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer…”
Yes, I think a perception shift away from the notion of a destructive force acting against you would be a good place to put your energy. Faith is always a more comfortable place to be, but despair is valid too.
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Love to you all,