Sometimes, at 330 in the morning while the rest of the western hemisphere is sleeping, I feel like sleeping too. More accurately, I feel like quitting. I mean, I love writing, but every damn day is a lot. Surely I could be happy as an underachiever, or hell–just an achiever. Anything but the balls-to-the-wall overachiever that I am. Currently I’m in Springfield, Missouri, staying with some friends, and there’s a remote control and Netflix within spitting distance of this futon, and don’t think I haven’t thought about closing this laptop and going for it.
But here I am–once again–writing. UGH.
This morning, before I’d even been awake for half an hour, I got an email that a piece of writing I submitted for a statewide contest had been rejected. (“Not accepted” was the actual phrase they used.) Well, I don’t mind saying that reading that email sucked. It still sucks. Granted, I get that it’s only one contest and blah, blah, blah, but “not acceptance” always blows in the worst way. I mean–as long as I’m being honest, since that’s what I do here (ICK)–I kind of had my heart set on that contest. A friend of mine is a past-winner, and they said I was a shoe-in. I’d already mentally spent the prize money, thought about how I would thank my parents in my acceptance speech.
I heard recently that a good percentage of our mental activity and time is spent on daydreaming–thinking Well, if this happens I’ll do this. If that happens I’ll do that. If he happens I’ll do him. So I guess all the fantasizing is very “normal,” but it still sucks.
Just after the email came through, I had an appointment with my massage therapist, Gina, and we started talking about which of my leg muscles felt tight. I said my quads felt tighter than my hamstrings, and Gina said, “Hum, let me think.” Then she had a “lightbulb moment,” started working on my quads, and explained that they were pulling the front of my hips down. (Think of a bowl with muscles attached to the front and back. If the front is pulled down, the back will tilt up.) Gina said, “The quads are strong enough to cause your hips to tilt. They have the power to do that.”
Within minutes, I felt my quads release. Gina said, “We may have hit pay dirt.” Later when I got off the table, I could tell my hips were more level, less tilted. My butt didn’t stick out as far. (Sorry, ladies.) My hips weren’t rocked back like usual. Wow, I thought, My body is actually changing. Part of me thought this would never happen, but–it’s happening.
Later I tried to call my therapist and left a message. Then–because it’s part of my creativity homework to spend time in a sacred space–I went to sit in a church. Just walked in and sat down. No one else was there–just me and God. I felt like I was in a movie–that is until the janitor started moving around and making noise. Still, I was this big ball of emotions–disappointed about the contest, excited about my hips, wondering what to do next, whether or not I should throw in the towel, settle. Then I noticed a candle burning near the altar, and I thought about how it continued to burn–day in, day out–no matter whether or not anyone was there to see it. Just a candle burning with no need for praise or recognition.
Can I be like that candle?
As I left the church, I noticed I’d missed a call from my therapist, so I called her back and caught her in between clients. I said, “I get that dreams don’t always come true the way you think they’re going to, even if they do come true. And I’m just trying to not go into a downward spiral over this contest.”
“Contests are so subjective,” she said. “You don’t know if it was a tie and someone said, ‘Just pick one.’ Or maybe the judge had a fight with their spouse that day. Plus you have to remember–people are fucking stupid.”
So then I started laughing.
“You know, there are people who meet me for an intake and say it’s not going to work for them,” she said. “I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea. I work REALLY HARD TO NOT BE everyone’s cup of tea.”
Yeah, I like that. I don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea either.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Vicki introduced to Ana Maria, one of the artists who’s participated in The Unexpected (artist/mural festival in Fort Smith) for the last three years. She currently has a pop-up gallery in downtown to showcase her work, so today she met me for a private viewing. How cool is that? How cool is that octopus mural at the top of the blog?
Here’s a painting Ana Maria did of two foxes. It’s called Grief.
Next to Grief hung a painting she did of an octopus and some flowers. It’s called Jubilo, which is Spanish for joy.
I said, “That’s interesting–grief and joy–right beside each other.”
This evening I drove to Springfield to attend a dance and help my friends Anne and Andy at their wedding venue because one of their regular staff members (my friend Matt) is out of town. During the drive I kept thinking about how many muscles connect to the hips, how hard it is to keep them balanced. If one set of muscles starts pulling, the others have to overwork to compensate. I kept thinking how Gina referred to the quads’ ability to cause imbalance.
They have the power to do that.
At the dance tonight, there were several times that I got completely lost in the moment, having fun, laughing. My friend Andy led me in both two-step and Lindy Hop, and it was a thrill-a-minute because I didn’t have to be in charge for once. (Ironic, I know, that I’ve been upset because things didn’t work out my way.) He even dipped me back. Yippee! Then a couple times I thought, Oh yeah, I lost that contest. I guess I’m still sad about it. But I’m having fun now. And my hips are getting better.
I suppose Ana Maria had it right–putting grief and joy beside each other. Perhaps they’re the same thing–expectations disappointed, expectations fulfilled. This is the way life goes. But when I think about someone I don’t even know judging my writing–one of probably hundreds of entries–I know that person, that situation can disappoint me, but neither has the ability to affect my balance for very long. No, I’ve decided. They don’t have the power to do that. I’ve worked too hard to not be everyone’s cup of tea. What’s more, my joy comes from within, and–at least for now–sitting at this laptop every night is what I’m called to do, what my soul demands.
So I guess I’ll write another day.
Quotes from CoCo
"When you’re authentic, your authenticity is enough. You don’t need to compare."