ShiftPosted: March 10, 2016
Shift. The word came into my head this morning as I was contemplating names for a new blog. But then I realized (okay, after fighting with WordPress for domain names for a while) that perhaps I don’t need a new space. I can simply shift my thinking about this one.
(Also, the word shift is one of those that if you look at it for too long, it looks like nonsense. And there’s the inevitable misread, which is kind of the exact opposite of what I want to get at.)
It was in yoga, not surprisingly, that the idea arrived. The poses ask you to constantly shift — your balance, your breath, your focus. To make those shifts safely, you need to slow down and be intentional. But then you need to act as well — move into the next pose.
And I’ve been feeling a deep shift in my yoga practice lately. I can’t quite articulate it yet, but it feels like I’ve reached a new threshold and I’m about to cross it.
Yesterday I was on the train into the city and this thought came into my head: “I want to be a writer.”
It’s something I call myself professionally, along with “editor” — I am paid to work with words. But am I “a writer”? I’ve spent a lot of time lately doubting my ability to form words into stories, or to say anything useful or meaningful with them. It’s one thing to write a sentence correctly, or write a “pretty” one using “beautiful” language; it’s another thing completely to be able to put those sentences together to tell a story that conveys emotion, that makes the person reading it feel something.
That’s the place where I’m hovering in uncertainty. It’s a threshold that I’m unsure about.
It’s not that I don’t think I have the ability to do it. I know I do. But I want to create something bigger. And, well — sometimes it feels like words fail me.
For me, stories are everything. They are everywhere. Everyone, every thing, every place has a story. Hearing, watching, and reading these stories feels like what I’m supposed to be doing, what I want to be doing. But when it comes down to sitting with a blank page and writing my own, I get muddled. What is it I want to say? Is it worth saying? I’ve got this idea, these emotions I want to get across — how to do that? What is the story? Where’s the plot? (Is there one?)
I’m trying to shift myself out of this mind-set and just do it. Just write. See what happens. It’s a practice, like anything else, and I’ve grown better and better at understanding that in the rest of my life. Everything is in process, and all you can do is show up, again and again. Some days it will all fall into place and be practically perfect. Other days you will literally fall on your face. Most days will be somewhere in between.
As I said to a friend this morning, during those practically perfect times, everything feels aligned. The vibration is right, like the sound of a harmonic on a guitar. That’s the place you strive to get to and stay in for as long as possible. But you have to follow the path that leads you there; it’s not in plain sight. (And I suppose it wouldn’t feel so satisfying to arrive and linger there if it was.)
And here’s the thing: Writing gets me there. I’ve just written this piece about how I’m trying to write, and I’ve written myself into that feeling, that high. I’m there.
Another friend recently wrote this line: “In order to write, I need to write.” Circular and true. It’s the harmonic.
So. I’m going to consider this post a shift, and I’m going to come here more often. And write.