This winter I was feeling like my writing in the morning was frivolous. It was a morning ritual that I had developed after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way at Work more than six years ago: sit, drink my coffee, write. Dave had started to get up early and go to the gym every day; this seemed much more productive. I was questioning my writing habit: What was I producing? What was the point? Is this the best use of my time?
I started to skip writing, crawl out of bed, throw on my gym clothes and Canadian Goose Parka and stumble over to the gym. I felt great while I was at the gym and I was gaining confidence in myself for holding my commitment but after a few weeks I began to notice that I was feeling a little “off”. I was sure this was just an excuse to not go to the gym and I ignored it.
When I told this story to my massage therapist Alfie** (I swear he also doubles as my psychotherapist), he paused and asked me: Have you ever heard of the TV show the Dog Whisperer? The host often helps owners recognize that their dogs are misbehaving because they are not fulfilling their purpose. If they are shepherds, they need to shepherd. Maybe writing is like that for you.
I quickly got over being the dog in this analogy because Alfie made a great point. We all have something that we were meant to do that is somehow programmed in. The key is to recognize it and stick to it.
Now I am back to writing every weekday and feeling grounded (and feeling guilty about not going to the gym, but that’s okay). Alfie’s story led me to realize it actually didn’t matter whether my writing produced something concrete, what it was producing was a clear, contented mind. What could be a more important productive outcome?
What’s programmed in for you? What keeps you grounded?
* I have been watching Parks and Recreation and “literally” keeps popping into my phrasing. I seem to be channelling ChrisTraeger.