When I wrote a sensitive and painful experience for my first chapter, I dared to press “send” and share it with the complete strangers of a critique group. I thought it was brave and worth doing because of the challenge. And in my frustration with a suggestion that some of my piece suggests I’m an “unintentional unreliable narrator” I sort of came unglued. Anger and defensiveness ruled my days, wasting more of my energy that I need for taking care of our home education, my business and my relationship with a grieving spouse.
It was pointless and wasteful to be so upset.
I felt caught in a trap, tangled in a power play, the victim of a senseless intimidation game.
And all of a sudden, the story that came marching out of my heart crept back inside the tortoise shell where I lost the threads of the narrative. I gave away my powerful writing momentum because I was hopeful about the experience of social connection during the writing process.
Nothing is worth letting the writing die, no matter how educated, insightful, harsh or off base the critique may be. I don’t even know yet what specific words, phrases, lines or paragraphs are causing this response. So all of it is senseless to me. I was hopeful for a supportive community, but I’m just now thinking that I may need more time to develop the actual narrative without concern for how it’s written. Maybe the critique part only needs to happen after the entire story is complete.
But is that just the perfect out for me, an excuse to avoid the discomfort? I’m not sure.
What I do know is that when you’re struggling with a difficult, uncomfortable situation, salvation lies in the beautiful now –where the story of the past is put away and the expectation of the future is silent.
Here in the present moment, we are given sunlight sparkling on a lake in spring with the sound of insistent crows overhead, a sound that feels like the drumbeat of ‘warning! warning! warning!’ to all who travel in the trees.
In this moment, my beautiful son.
And the moment when we notice brilliant moss at the base of a towering pine that makes us think of the Emerald City of Oz, in miniature.
The beautiful now when spring is just beginning, when you can still see everything in the woods. When it’s not too heavy with humidity, when walking feels like lightness and freedom and active presence in your life.
Nature cures my insane need to express my worry. It is so quiet and accepting of the animal that is me.
There’s another language to be found in the clinging fungus, a language that has no words but speaks to me with patient, delicate growth. These mushrooms are not as temporary as spring blooms, bursting in color and dropping in a week. They don’t attract the bees and butterflies. They grow on dead logs, finding valuable nutrients on decay.
In the beautiful now, I find comfort in their existence. And that is enough to go on.