Next to childbirth, writing a book is the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. And not unlike childbirth, once I saw how hard and painful the birth process actually was, I totally wanted to turn back. But when a baby is pushing to come out there’s no such thing as turning back.
Same with a book (kind of). I mean, technically, I could stop if I wanted to. But I can’t …. I won’t. It’s a creative scout of honor pledge or something. I have to see the book writing through to its end.
Writing this book is (nearly) all-consuming. When I’m not writing the actual book, I am either writing peripheral book stuff or I’m thinking about writing, or I am journaling or I am thinking about what kind of creative action I need to take next.
I miss the carefree blogging experience I used to enjoy in previous years. It’s sorta like when you were a kid and all you had to worry about was playing outside until someone called you in because playtime was over. Now that writing is my job, there are days when blogging feels like work too.
I’m not complaining (even if it sounds like I am). I’m just big on documenting my process. I like keeping track of the writing life, its offerings and its lessons.
The dots along this creative journey have been coming together and the process is beginning to look like an actual story which make sense. Remember last year, when I started this blog? Remember how uncertain I was about where the posts might be going? Just following my heart, seeing where it leads, remember that? Remember how mortified I was at the thought of full-face selfies? The pieces have been fitting together much more lately and it’s beginning to make sense.
Remember the Love journey from a couple of months ago? I thought that was one of my more crazier revelations. Why should I need to go on any Love expedition? Why would I need to go deeper with my expressions of love? Why should I want to show more love in the world? I’m already loving! Ok, maybe not ALL the time, but enough of the time. More love? Can’t I just send money somewhere?
Oh, alright. Fine. More love (fml).
It took a few weeks of going deeper in Love for me to understand its relevance. And during those initial weeks I felt like such an idiot. Seriously. During the second week of the (crazy) Love journey, I complimented a young black woman at the bakery counter after she handed me my muffins. She looked close in age to my own millennial daughters. I told her she had a nice smile, assuming she’d probably heard such a compliment before. The smile faded slightly, she glanced quickly around and murmured her thanks as she moved away from the counter. A store manager had overheard and was watching us with interest.
I walked away from that bakery counter feeling chagrined and embarrassed, pleading silently with my angels to stop bugging me about expressing more Love. Like a petulant child, I was all like, Come onnnn! Nobody else is being extra loving! I don’t wanna play anymore! Extra loving is sooo boring! No response. And then a gentle nudge of reassurance in my heart and a whisper: Keep going, Maria.
So I kept it up. Not every single moment and not every single day, lest they call security on me in one of the local stores. But as much as I could, I remained vigilant, ever mindful of the need for extra love in my environs.
I eventually had to admit, I didn’t know as much about Love as I originally thought. And then, I began to change. I stared into my own eyes for longer stretches when I looked in the mirror. I said my own name out loud without scolding or being sarcastic in self-talk. I started complimenting myself and saying I love you to my reflection.
I saw a change in the book writing …. a big change. It was a change I didn’t know it needed. Book writing takes chutzpah, yo. Cahoonas, you know— balls. Big ones. You’ve got to believe your writing voice is worthy enough to deserve pages, lots and lots of pages.
No more questions from me about why I need to show more love. I totally get it now. And the thing with Love that I am starting to understand is, there will never be enough given and no matter how much you give, you will never run out. It is beautifully complex like that.
I realized something else. We see each other, out in the world, doing our own thing— drinking coffee in the cafes, chatting people up, selecting groceries from shelves, bobbing heads to ear-plugged tunes, hailing cabs, riding bikes, driving cars, flirting with strangers, pulling wedgies (am I the only one?)— and we assume each of us has life all figured out. In most activities, we assume each other capable and self-aware. But the truth is, we’re all out here acting as if and faking it ’til we make it.
I don’t care how long you’ve been adulting, parenting, working, friending or whatever it is you’re committed to— we’re destined for uncertainty and humbled practice. Did I say the wrong thing? Why was he so rude? Why is she being such a snot? How the hell was I supposed to know that? Where’s the listening ear when I need a friend? How much talking can one person do? Will this meeting ever end? If I let one go will anyone smell it? Take comfort in knowing that there’s not one expert among us. We’re all in this human school together.
P.S. Speaking of Love, my latest podcast episode (#22) was a tender one. Definitely influenced by the Love journey. Listen in iTunes or go here. Be sure to subscribe to get alerts on new show episodes.