“I need solitude. I need space. I need air. I need the empty fields round me; and my legs pounding along roads; and sleep; and animal existence.” ~ Virginia Woolf
Around this time four years ago, one of my writing mentors (Sarah Selecky, the wonderful creator of the online Story Intensive course) said the following about the draft of a piece I had written: “The energy of this writing feels rare and raw to me, especially when I read it off of my screen. It’s like finding a river that flows under the ground. You can tap into it. The writing is close to the wilderness of creativity, and it wakes something up in me when I read it.”
What she said resonated with me back then. It felt like a true reflection of my writing. While her words were meant to be appreciative, I feel like, for many years, this is “all” I had been doing. Tapping. My writing was “close to the wilderness”, but it wasn’t taking the full plunge. The same applies to my own life, because writing and life are always interconnected imo.
It took me years and several impulses from the outside world — a pandemic, aging parents, their diseases, my own diseases, moving across countries and cities multiple times, and several failures in my personal life — to turn that tapping into diving. It took me many years and many books and betraying my true nature.
It took giving up my writing to focus on my relationships with others, giving up my fitness to focus on my writing, losing all my “solid“ references, including my relationship with myself, digging into my family history to unearth both buried trauma and buried joy, fighting to make my voice heard, years of learning which conflicts are worth pursuing and which not, as well as getting rid of precancerous cells and a number of benign tumors, to turn that tapping into diving; to turn towards anchoring my body and my writing in the wilderness of the mountains with their forests and waterfalls — like a tree.
A tired body cannot lie about where it‘s been, and how we tire our bodies matters. I‘d rather tire mine by letting my heart pound on mountain paths than by trying to contain and constrain it within social frames that do not fit, or by taking on load that isn’t mine to carry.
I wrote the first draft of this blog post on my phone, in the middle of a steep, strenuous, solitary hike, on a route with little sunlight that kept going up among tall trees and seemed to never end, yet I was feeling fully connected — to the sore muscles of my legs, to my heavy breath, to the wind, to the trees in the forest around me and their roots that seemed to be breaking through stone in order to anchor themselves and keep growing, always striving for the light that seemed to barely enter that forest, and everything inside me and around me, just bursting with life. Embracing this experience fully (and repeating it in a number of variations) has shifted something in my creative work and in my life in general.
Sometimes we have to go up (in my case, up the mountain) in order to go deep down into ourselves. Perhaps in a few years from now, this state of diving that I‘m currently in will also feel like “only” tapping. We don‘t know what happens when we embrace the wideness of the possibilities of our true selves.
“It doesn’t happen all at once.(…) You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept (…) once you are real you can‘t be ugly, except to people who don‘t understand.“ ~ Margery Williams Bianco
I believe though that we all have moments when we break easily or need to be carefully kept. We all have moments of doubt and uncertainty — about life and the future, but mostly — about ourselves. But these are not necessarily the moments that define us.
We get in our own way. We are afraid to love others and to let them know we do, but — above all — we are afraid to let ourselves love ourselves deeply. We are afraid to show up as we are in front of others but also in front of ourselves. So we pretend that everything is “just fine“ and try to contain our power into predefined narratives.
We ignore the call and it costs us our physical and mental health.
We grow angry and resentful of our families and partners, of the people we see out there, in the world, doing their thing, listening to their call.
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.” ~ Anaïs Nin
So, what are you being called to do?
In times like this, of deep uncertainty, more than ever we need to tap. Gently at first, but then deeper. And let whatever wants to emerge just be. Listen to the rhythm of nature and our own bodies in their cycles. Listen to that inner voice running underneath that just won‘t be silenced.
Are you ready to dive in? You might not be, but your inner voice is nonetheless there, asking you to stand up in love with yourself, instead of fall.
All you need to do is listen.
Will you stand up and listen to the call? Will you wake up and show yourself to the world as only you can do?