Last night I went to see the movie “Inception.” One of the ideas in the film was about planting a seed in someone’s unconscious so that it grows and takes over. This morning I felt like such a seed had somehow gotten planted in my mind. The seed was, “Your health and fitness have gotten in the way of your writing life.” Which may or may not be true. Maybe I’ve just made certain choices this past year.
But this morning I felt like an all-out war was going on inside my head. It literally took my breath away, the incredible degree of anger and venom between the various parts of me.
So as you all know, I run this annual camp every summer during which time I put everything else in my life aside. It’s just all consuming. But I have especially had to put aside my writing life, which most of the past 15 years has been very very important to me. Last year, after camp, I did not “go back” to my writing because the writing had been laid aside so I could focus on my health.
This year, though, the writing has been pressing its face to the glass, wondering, When is it MY TURN? I ran into one of my best writing friends this week and we made a mutual commitment to write 20 pages a week. I was so excited. Here, finally! So this morning I got up. The whole day stretched in front of me. I wanted to write. But I also wanted to go for a long walk. And I felt like whichever one cam first would sort of dictate the rest of the day. If I put the walk off, it might never happen. If I put the writing off, I’d get distracted. Which one was going to get those clean, prime morning hours?
As it turned out, neither and both. I felt like a screaming, knock-down, hairpulling, knife-wielding fight was going on inside my head. I felt paralyzed and as if I couldn’t do either. Finally, I went off on my walk, but I was MAD about it. Believe me, this is not a good way to do exercise.
WM (Writing Me) was yelling at HM (Healthy Me). I can’t believe you’re getting away with it! Again!!!!!!!!!! All year I’ve stepped aside so YOU could get all the spare time. And you take up every freaking minute. If you’re not going for a walk, you’re writing on that stupid blog (and NO, that does NOT COUNT as “writing!”). Or you’re going to Weight Watchers. Or taking pictures of food. There’s never any time for meeeeeeeeeeeee any more!
(me. In shock. In between)
Now I’m mad at Healthy Me. I’m sobbing. I’m outraged. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I’ve freaking GIVEN UP for you?!?!? I’m feeling betrayed by myself. I’m feeling so angry. I’m feeling like I somehow got tricked into the illusion that This Is All There Is. While meanwhile, my books have been languishing, unwritten. All my computer will do is blog. My novel(s) are dead. My collection of short stories, dead. Nonfiction book: dead.
The realization of this just killed me. I sobbed and wailed and yelled at my husband (who was coming down off the trail and gave me a nice compliment). I tried to articulate for him what was going on and he said something to the effect (I am paraphrasing) that of course my health has to come first. Which made me fly even MORE into a frenzy. I took off up the hill, sobbing even more.
Long walk. Two hours. (in which I had to convince myself that I was doing this walk to THINK, not for the purposes of EXERCISE so that WM would not throw HM off a nearby cliff.)
It just so happens that when I was deep in my Writing Self, I didn’t give a crap about my health. Or exercise. My writing was everything. It took a lot of time, and attention, and energy.
So when my Healthy Self came along, Writing Self had to go on the back burner for a long time. And was fairly patient about it for a long time. But the time has apparently come for that patience to RUN OUT and Writing Self wants my time and energy and attention back. In a big way. Problem is, I now have a bunch of jobs, even though one is not as intense as it has been. I am still going to have to divvy it up.
And I’m just exhausted. I feel like I cannot parse out every single minute of my free time. I need time to do NOTHING, too. (aka the Nothing Self)
The walk was good. It calmed me down. It wore me out. During the walk, my older girl called me. It was so good to talk to her. I will be seeing her in a few weeks for my birthday, and I can’t wait. She understood the post-camp letdown, the exhaustion, the just being so tired you want to cry all the time.
I don’t know that it is an impossible thing, to have these two things that mean so very much to me. I can’t figure it out right now. But I think it was good to realize how important they both are.