“True life is lived when tiny choices are made. Tiny choices mean big changes. But it is only with infinitesimal change, changes so small no one else can even realize you’re making them, that you have any hope for transformation.” Leo Tolstoy
On a cold February morning in 2014 I met a woman in the waiting room of a clinic here in Montreal. The wait was long and while I sat there kind of depressed and feeling down this young woman came and sat beside me. She started talking by saying how she hated the long waits in the clinics here and before long we were chatting. She then asked me if I had read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. When I said no, not even heard of her, she said it’s a must read for every artist and will help me get unblocked. By the time I reached home I had already ordered the book and asked my son to pick it up for me from the bookstore on his way home from university.
It was a time in my life when my self-esteem was at its lowest. I had quit teaching to be with my late husband, to support and care for him in his battle with cancer. Now if you are working you know there’s something about earning money. It kind of helps give you control over your life. It kind of gives you freedom; you enjoy an independence that cannot be replaced by anything. You know that you can take care of yourself no matter what happens.
I had lost that privilege. I had lost my freedom- my power- my control over my own life. Hence I was not only angry but I also loathed myself for being in this situation. To top it all I wasn’t doing well physically. I had been rushed to the ER a few times for my heart, with stress related symptoms. The most difficult challenge for me at the time was managing my way through the emotional roller coaster I found myself in.
That night I started reading and this book hit home. One thing led to another and soon I found myself borrowing from the library and sometimes even buying and reading all kinds of self-help books I could lay my hands on. I even started reading books on sixth sense and spirituality and all those that I normally wouldn’t read.
Going through those books somehow calmed me down and made me feel good about myself and I completely lost myself in them. I started following these authors on Facebook and dutifully obeyed their instructions and did the suggested exercises in their books, especially Julia Cameron’s morning pages.
“What are morning pages? Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.” Julia Cameron
This was all new to me and it felt like I was taking control of my life again. I believed that I would soon get unblocked since in Cameron’s words, “The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery.”
So I filled notebook after notebook with my writing, believing that soon I would start to write and gain back my confidence. Why not? But after doing it for months I realized that all my writing was so negative. All I was doing on the page was complaining and whining and blaming circumstances and others for all my failures. What’s worse is that I had stopped writing. Once I wrote my morning pages I was so drained mentally and emotionally that I didn’t want to write anything afterwards.
George Bernard Shaw writes:
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
Being an early bird I always wrote in the morning. And now that I had totally stopped blogging I was angry and frustrated most of the time. I missed writing, I missed blogging. Don’t get me wrong; I loved reading self-help books and I still do from time to time. What I didn’t like was my dependence on them. I had somehow convinced myself that as long as I was following their advice and doing those exercises I wasn’t wasting my time.
What I missed most was being inspired. For me inspiration often came reading about my favorite authors, perusing their biographies and watching or listening to their interviews. I missed reading the kind of books and literature that I always liked. I had lost faith in my ability to create. I was a wreck. I realized that all I ever did was stall. And all I wanted to do now was start writing again, to try again. “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Julia Cameron writes:
“Any creative work is made by many small steps. The steps themselves are rarely great leaps. It is the faith to begin that we must cultivate and act upon. You need to begin anyway. Just do it. And if you don’t feel a sense of faith, you need to act anyway. As you move forward, you will feel hope and it will help you continue.”
Maybe those books helped after all. Have a great week!