I’m in downstate eastern Michigan lounging alone on my mom’s flowered pastel couch with the deep aroma of coffee beckoning. The tattered book “Wild Mind” by Natalie Goldberg peers up from the round glass table.
Write, write, write, Natalie urges as her life mission. Write the chattering monkey mind, let it swing free through the jungle of its sense and craziness, don’t stop to edit, okay sip your coffee, but let the typing IPad finger never stop.
One fun exercise, she says, is let the monkey mind say what it wants and then write “What I really want to say…” and let the deeper stuff come up.
What I really want to say is how annoying smart washing machines can be. Have you ever used one? My brother and his wife put one in mom’s basement (they sometimes live here now that my mom dwells in assisted living) and I’m not smart enough to figure out how to outsmart it. Twice now I’ve washed the sheets and towels in preparation for departure and the load gets unbalanced and the machine misbehaves so terribly.
In fact I must quit typing, Natalie, and tend the naughty creature. Sip of coffee first! Oh Natalie, it’s impossible. We must sometimes divert.
Okay, back upstairs with clothes in the smart dryer, eating granola with sliced bananas, chia seeds and soy milk while typing with one finger and chewing. They say we really can’t multi-task as well as we think.
What I really want to say is that life seems to be this dance of challenge and joy. And that there’s some part of us that wants to get rid of the challenge part. Begone, all you troublesome problems that make us fret! Let’s just keep the happy parts, pretty please with cream and sugar on top.
It just hurts so damn much sometimes. This business of living.
This business of feeling.
This business of rainstorms and thunderstorms and tornados and hurricanes and wildfires and heat waves and viruses and cancer and heart attacks and war and arguments and differing viewpoints and divorce and…I could type for a long time. Couldn’t you?
Then there’s the precious joys, the sweet moments. Cappuccino ice cream with your 88 year old mom who couldn’t walk two years ago and now drives to the blueberry farm to surprise friends with fat juicy Michigan blueberries. Sitting on the sand and watching your adult children swim into frolicking waves. Morning friendly chats with a brother who lets you stay at his northern cabins on the way home to the shores of Lake Superior.
I could type for a long time. Couldn’t you?
It’s getting late. What did I really want to say that’s been left unsaid? I just want to capture a preciousness of life. The way it’s possible to pay attention to it all, the way tears can signal joy and sorrow. To say that it’s not just about laughter. It’s about tending ALL of us. All of life.
Hugging what hurts. Rejoicing when we’re happy. Learning to live with the fullness of it all, the confounding wholeness of it all, with the broken crack and the bell that still rings, inviting us into the next sacred moment.
I love Natalie Goldberg…and l love when you write.
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It’s been fun reading Natalie again. I bought her book for fifty cents at the public library in my hometown this last week. Thanks for your support: my heart overflows with love!
Just what I needed to hear. All of it. I will pull her book off my shelf and read the first chapter again. Thank you for writing.
Flora, oh good! How wonderful that you’ve been inspired too!
Love, love, love this. So want to start writing again and can’t seem to dive into the waters. You may have been the catalyst this morning . . .
Oh Bree, I so get it. Months can go by without inclination or inspiration. Let me know if you start blogging again. I would love to read what comes through your typing fingers.
Oh Kathy, I can truly relate. I haven’t written much of anything this entire year — and I had such high hopes for doing better. I have two novels that need deep edits, and I must get to work on the third book in my series. BUT, there’s a Monkey in my life now, and he’s got to come first (living, breathing creatures must be tended to, or they wither away). Here’s to finding the right balance … for you!
Debbie, it sounds like your barking monkey IS keeping you busy these days. When I get home I will hop over to your blog and see if you’ve written anything there. Balance is everything, and sometimes the scale tilts way over to one side before moving in the other direction, doesn’t it?
This is lovely…and it’s so good to hear from you. I hope all is well?
Hi Cindy! I am very close to you right now. Well, closer anyway. Over at my brother’s place in Vanderbilt. Everything is well here, except for minor annoyances which crop up for most of us. Hope all is well with you, too. Will go blog reading after getting back home.
Did not manage to hurt what hurts today, Had chocolate and wine istead
Oh yes, my friend. I, too, have known the healing and soothing powers of chocolate and wine, and other things as well. Blessings to what hurts in you. 💗
It is so nice to hear from you again. And that Monkey, that darned, blessed Monkey.
Hi Carol, nice to see you again too. I will look at your blog when I get back home. That darned blessed monkey mind has been going full tilt this afternoon here. I like how you call it blessed, too.
First it’s great to see you here again. Second I may be the only writer on earth who doesn’t like Natalie, but I am. I say write in any way you want, with the monkey or without it. As for figuring out a fancy new washing machine, I shudder to think about doing that. So much going on in the world, that I’m not sure I could take on that task.
Wise words, Ally Bean, to write any darn way we want. I think Natalie is perhaps writing to those of us stuck, stumped, blocked and offering suggestions. I thrill to her words and then ignore them and don’t think of her for 15 years at a time. You would have despaired with that smart washing machine. My brother said you aren’t supposed to evenly distribute clothes. You throw them in clumps around the agitator. Or something. Next trip I’ll try to remember that tip.
What I really want to say is that I finally understand why I react the way that I do to the challenges. I don’t hug them. I wrap them around myself and hold on tight because, though I want to shoo them away, they are familiar. And I finally understand why and that maybe it’s ok if I never change.
I’ve missed your writing. XOXO
How lovely to see you Stacy and to think of you wrapping challenges around you. And I love the acceptance settling around you, the allowing. May it all be okay. May it, please.
I enjoy reading your words. Daily I relish the joys of life (new chicks scampering and scavenging bugs, good talks, beautiful walks with such gorgeous shades of green) and often am puzzled by the challenges (hawks that eat said chicks and the heartbreak of divisions amongst, family, friends, neighbors…). But nonetheless we are in this human body/earth ship making our way the best we can! Being able to express all of it is creative connection to life itself and all it means to be alive! So glad you are visiting family. Enjoy!💕
What a lovely description of your day with the fullness of it, both the joys and those challenges. Smiling at the term earth ship and remembering all that you do from the goodness of your heart. I am heading home now, enjoying a quiet respite at my brother’s cabin north of Gaylord. Looking forward to seeing Aura and Barry this afternoon!
Good to read you once again. I almost missed this buried in the email feed full of food blogs, health blogs, publishing blogs about all the new books, so on and so forth.
I don’t know Natalie Goldberg’s work but I am glad she got you to write. Glad you had time to spend with. your Mom and share ice cream together.
I’m physically writing morning pages still, even when I don’t want to!
Hi Jeff! I’m glad you discovered this in the midst of your chock-filled email, and that you paused to share a bit of yourself here. How wonderful that you’re still spilling your mind upon your morning pages, and that you do it whether you want or not. Big hugs…and wishes for many blessings “as the world turns”…
If Natalie read this, she’d be clapping and saying, “Exactly! You got it EXACTLY right!” My copy of Wild Mind is tattered also, as well as her other books on writing. I base my creative writing classes on them. “I remember” and “What I really want to say” are always a great way to move the pen. But the way YOU move your pen….moves me. ❤
Awww, I love how you have loved Natalie’s inspiration, too, and that you based your classes on them. On the way home–in the car–I was writing in my head the “I remember” exercise. But the “I don’t remember” exercise seemed more intriguing because, wow, really, how do we write what we don’t remember? Thanks for your flashes of light, Pam, here, there, everywhere!
Here, there, and everywhere, and sometimes even nowhere, which is where my memory goes on the things that I don’t remember! 🙂
It’s lovely to see your beautiful post pop up on my feed! I have always read Natalie’s books in swift gulps, her words are so inspiring…your post is inspiring, too…making us feel OK to love the joyous moments and learn to hug the annoying or challenging…
Swift gulps of Natalie! Yes, what a lovely way of putting it. I gulp her inspiration and then forget about her for months or years at a time. So VERY nice to see you here! xoxo
It was a pleasure!
This is a lovely and gentle reminder<3 Life is full of both beauty and pain, and I think the writer's often sensitive heart feels it all. I look forward to your posts and appreciate your writing.
LaDonna, thank you for reading and commenting with your sensitive heart. ❤ I am hoping to write some more (and read other blogs) but everything goes soooo quiet when I'm back home in the woods. Hoping inspiration strikes again soon!
Beautiful and beautifully written.
Thank you, dear earthcomplex ❤
Kathy it is good to know that you left the house in the woods to visit your mom and your brother. I think it is always good to get away which sometimes gives one a new appreciation of home. Perhaps this is not the case for some folks who actually have no lovely home to return to. Anyway I stray from the gist of your post. But I will agree with the washing machine problem since these machines of human mastery have many faults.
Yvonne how nice to hear from you! It was lovely to visit with family downstate. And coming home is always double the joy after being away. I hope you are doing well these days.
Thank you and yea, i am staying home all the time unless I must get out for something such as a doctor’s appointment. or veterinarian appointment or to get my groceries curbside. My son’s GF picks up my pet food and supplies at Walmart and brings all of that inside while I remain outside. She is a teacher’s aide at very large school and teaches PK bilingual. She is quite good at what she does but did not want to go past getting an AD. I pay her to help me with taking all my pet trash to the street for trash day. I stay 6-8 feet from her-wearing a mask and wait outside when she brings my pet food and supplies into my storage room. She works around all those little vectors so I just don’t chance it. We all (family) have been vaccinated with Pfizer but none the less- the vaccines are not fool proof. I hope that you are being very careful.
Thanks for updating me about what’s going on with your life. Glad your son’s girlfriend helps you so much–you are lucky to have her. (It does sound like the virus is pretty bad down there in Texas. Michigan hasn’t gotten bad again since last spring, but the numbers are creeping up.)
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Well now… How outta da loop am I to have never heard of Natalie?
Loev this exercise!
Glad to have introduced her! You will (probably) love her honest open style of writing should you pick up one of her books.
Thanks! Added to my “to read” least… it’s soooo long LOL