Why but why not?

Mid December last year I was seeking new things to do in 2021, and signed up for A Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self course with Rachel Astor via DailyOM. Lesson 1, in a nutshell, asks “Why take this journey?” “What are the roadblocks?” and invites “Let’s mine those experiences for insights and stories”.

While I was contemplating if it might supply blog material or not, I read the quote “By telling our stories, we have the chance to help someone else feel less alone.” from Melis Layek who contributed to The Guardian’s Dreams Interrupted series.

Let’s see how it goes on a lesson-by-lesson basis.

Writing Lesson 1: Why but why not?

Off the cuff answer. Day-to-day distractions. More or less in chronological order… Trips to town for provisions and errands. Pre-festive season. Trips to town for provisions, errands and medical appointments. Festive season. Houseguests. Husband’s knee replacement surgery. Trips to town for provisions, errands, medical appointments and mother-in-law activities. Also -at least minimal- maintenance of: husband; dog; food; household; garden; chooks; oh… and self.

Other answer. This is not my first Authentic Self journey. Over the years they’ve taken many forms. From the first innocuous stress management course during my early twenties where I became acquainted with the practice of consulting Near Future Self to ask “will this matter in one week-one month-one year?” to adventurous, collaborating over the years with: Wild Woman Self; Past Self; Solitary Self; Counsellor Self… who championed Child Self while she re-examined the past and those who inhabit it, and sits in on ten-yearly performance reviews with Distant Future Self. I’m aware of the boons, and of the drawbacks.

Practically. The habit of gestating an impulse or idea until the planets align, gut feels right and/or overabundance of caution disperses. Sentences form in the shower or during early morning snug repose but when pen meets paper or fingers the keyboard… pooff! the words disappear. However, a week ago I woke with this subliminal message…

The journey’s afoot.
The voice has arrived.
So mote it be.

I began writing.

Procrastination is a funny old thing. It takes many forms; some of legitimate origin, others merely convenient prevarication. The interim between commitment and commencement can manifest as thoughtful incubation or nagging self-doubt, and a tug-of-war between wishful thinking or resignation to the inevitability of hard yards achieved step-by-step.

Legitimately, [insert household-professional-family-personal tasks] require action. Sleep and sustenance need to be had… But when and how much? Also, why? And sometimes, why me? Day-to-day variously offers the stimuli of an atelier or the challenges of a steeplechase.

In the opening lines of his best-known book The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck counsels “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

All well and good, until its collision with the practice of Philosophy’s well-examined writings around “know thyself” … Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Plato et al, ruminating “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom” and “an unexamined life is not worth living” attributed to Socrates.

The convergence of “life is difficult” and “know thyself” make for uneasy travelling companions although for interesting journeys. Understandable therefore, a little hesitation and indulgence in what “ignorance is bliss” comforts remain, prior to commencing another.

Oh, hark back to that first youthful jaunt remarkable for its minimal baggage, forethought or preparation… the confidence of naiveite anticipating only a conquering quest. Not much ventured and a trusting thirst for more gained. Unwitting success.

Subsequently, Present Self set out expecting to navigate the familiar to reconnoitre with Past Self in its distant realm, unaware -at the time- of the unforgettable truth that much is not known but when sought out, insight travels with speed and at times unexpected force. Meritorious rewards are hard-won souvenirs of yesterdays, trinkets of understanding, treasures of knowledge, mementos of forgiveness and wisdom conferred by a comprehended landscape. Nevertheless, no sign of the grail: the map without which that which remains to be conquered remains unknown.

Bravery materialises necessarily, and for the Authentic Self voyager returns persistently despite everything. Unfamiliar may become familiar and acceptable but uncertainty once encountered cannot be disremembered.

Courage takes its time to grace each rendezvous with its presence. Understandably so. Encountered awareness engenders conversely greater dread of what may never be realised.

Does a great journey really exist without the voice of a storyteller to tell the tale? At last, we may proceed.

Finie.

One lesson down, fifty-one to go.

If you’ve made it this far, well done, and thank you. As a reward… photos.

Notebook
New things to do in 2021: break out the old notebook.
Knitting
New things to do in 2021: knit… after 40 years of not picking up a knitting needle.
Water kefir
New things to do in 2021: water kefir.
G.O. collage
New things to do in 2021: knee surgery… almost 6 weeks ago.
Food
Summer #inmykitchen… continues to be homemade and homegrown.
Garden
Summer #inmygarden … is a little bit wild.
Diesel
Deez suggests when in doubt nap but keep a toy close by just in case…


18 thoughts on “Why but why not?

  1. I tried to ‘like’ your post but WordPress is being obstinate because I am using a different browser these days. Who knows if I will even be able to get this through to you. Writing about life as you are delving and ruminating is hard. Very hard. I struggle with it all the time, but you are making headway. Glad to see Welshy got the knee done, best wishes to him, and you, it is a long recovery, and painful, I’m led to believe. The authentic you is quite a treasure. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writing anything meaningful isn’t easy but it seems to be one of the things I like to try to do. If making headway is signing up then beginning… I’ll take that… gratefully. I’m doing the course just for me but with the view if not that then what. Thank you for the good wishes. Welshy is doing very well despite all the things that you quite correctly mention considered.

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  2. I’m not capable of the serious and analytical introspection you’re going to need for this inward journey. I’m very, very bad at this kind of stuff; my entire psyche seems to turn outwards, towards external things. I think you’ll make a good job of it, but I can’t really understand where it’s going because I’m wired wrong! Tell the G.O. that I have the matching crutches, but in blue! Thankfully I don’t need them too much any more, although I took several steps back today when I dropped the butter on the Very Same Toe at 2am. Your garden is looking nice and lush, which is a much better way of thinking about it than ‘wild’ 🙂 Oh, and Mouse sends a nose boop to Deez.

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    1. A thought-full journey that will generate some sort of writing inspiration… I hope, given that real life material and journeys are somewhat limited at the moment. However, I’m also applying myself to the external which includes tidying up the garden as the weather becomes more autumnal.

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  3. Like Kate, I’m not into introspection, or if I am, I don’t find any words for it. What I do struggle with presently is finding the right time and place for writing. I have 6 blog posts semi written. Writing usually takes place at the big kitchen table. It’s physically painful to stay at the computer for more than 15 minutes. Back and beck pain sets in quickly and shuffling photos about from place to place annoying. Pictures seem to enhance a blog, but I’m far more hooked on words. Notebooks make more sense. Time is about distraction and procrastination and fear. You describe these very well. Good luck with the journey and best wishes to Wayne. I’ve heard the GLAd programme of exercises works well for many, once he’s recovered sufficiently.

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    1. Time spent on introspection for the sake of it serves no-one, it’s better spent otherwise. If I had my time again I’d undertake more actual travel journeys and as a result would likely need less soul-searching. I’d love to have 6 semi-written blog posts… I’m often scratching to conjure up one but I understand the limitations and ensuing frustrations pain effects. I hope your back and neck pain is something that is able to be treated to offer some relief. I too prefer words and find procuring, processing and uploading photos to be fiddly but I also enjoy seeing others’ blog photos so feel I must be fair. Thank you for the kind words and good wishes. I’ve told Wayne about GLAd and we will look into it.

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  4. I read M. Scott Peck’s books nearly two decades ago, and you’ve inspired me to read them again. I was just beginning to delve into the hard work of healing and self-discovery at that time. We evolve in a different way, at a different pace, perhaps being more open to anything on the journey, as we discover who we are and who we are not. Overcoming obstacles and mind-sets developed in our young, formative years can be the biggest of difficulties to move past. Just being open to what life has to offer, and living in the moment lends us the experiences that help us understand ourselves, and maybe help others. Why take the road less traveled? Why not? I say! What if it’s awesome? 🙂

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    1. How wonderful, a fellow M. Scott Peck fan 🙂 His only book I haven’t read is People of the Lie… from a once you’ve read something it can’t be unread point of view. I should just do it, and then re-read the rest. His wisdom and insight endures. I applaud your sentiments, you truly do get it, and you’re right, it has been awesome and it will be again. You’ve reminded of an actual adventure the G.O. and I had… walking through the very long very narrow very high rock walls of Echidna Chasm in the Bungle Bungles… and our Indiana Jones narrative… this is a very bad idea… let’s keep going… this is a very bad idea… let’s keep going…it was harrowing but wonderful!

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  5. I share your belief that life, and beliefs, must be questioned. And every now and then they need a quick boot in the pants when complacency sets in, but I’m finding that most of my energy has been turned outwards this past year. I’m still blogging regularly, and I’m still working on my fiction, but the outside world keeps pulling me away. I hope that as things ‘out there’ settle down, I’ll be able to focus inwards again. Fiction may be make-believe, but it’s make-believe based on how we think and feel. All of us are changing at the moment, and none of us know what we, or the world, will be like when the dust settles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most definitely the outside world has been very distracting but for the moment anyway it’s reaching me simply as noisy noise, which is why I think I’m instinctively retreating inwards to the comforts of home, garden and self. Your closing sentence is a classic… would make a perfect opening line for a fiction novel based on real life 🙂

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      1. The Offspring and I have been ‘in retreat’ for a year, but I do know what you mean. I think I spent most of last year either reading up on everything Covid related as a kind of armour, or seething with anger at the way it was being managed, or not managed. I’m just so thankful that we live here in Vic. Our lockdown was tough but christ, I’m proud of what we achieved. 🙂

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  6. I either go real secretive or I actually find a way to tell the world. Any of my online “words” are basically snippets that I decide are needed for whatever audience. But this last week, I took my health issues and put them out there, a little further. That’s because I felt that my “art life” had suddenly stalled and as I re-read some of the posts, I realised I had said “soon, I’ll tell thee about…” and I hadn’t.

    I suppose the biggest “step” I took this last week, came about inadvertently when my usual “now rather useless GP was away” and I just couldn’t wait a week to see her. And I ended up with Muntsa (christian name) and she was fast on to what might ail me. Her whole attitude was one of care – and so I’ve decide Muntsa is my preferred GP. And hence I titled that blog post “Health:…” instead of some other usual arty title, with a bit of health thrown in somewhere in the post.

    As another step, thanks to your post right here, I’ve been chronically ill since the early 1990s and the disabilities I deal with all my life – coming up to 70 years!

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    1. In my experience it’s amazing how the things we’re meant to share find their way to the eyes of the people they’re meant to be shared with, sometimes it’s a one off, other times they stay around and a community is formed.

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    1. I’m enjoying the course, and via the DailyOM pay-what-you-can-afford tier it is good value for me. The topics and prompts offer -I think- food for thought opportunities for journaling-writing-notebooking-memoirs for a multiplicity of people, styles, and approaches. Right now I’m taking a break as my time and energy needs to be directed at household tasks that came up unexpectedly and have taken longer to deal with than anticipated… it’s also good value timewise as despite being delivered via weekly lessons its do-it-at your-own-pace structure allows flexibility… I’ve saved each lesson offline in a Word file so I can pick the course up again when time allows… it might take me a couple of years to get through it and some topics I imagine might be less relevant to me than others but I’m doing it solo and for my own amusement, so that’s ok.

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