Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Body Surfing

I just spent a week in the Dominican Republic with my family. I reveled in the glorious sand, sun, water and frozen rum drinks. Thanks to Tropical Storm Emily, we spent more time body surfing than snorkeling, but I'm not complainin.  I wrote this between swims, sitting on the beach in our little sea grape hideout.

This morning the sky was partly cloudy and the sea breeze a bit more forceful than it has been. The water was rough, too. Waist high waves were crashing on the beach, stirring up sand and foam and seaweed. A few yards out, the swimmers bobbed up and down like ocean bouies. I stood at the edge of the surf and thought I might just get my feet wet, rather than be tossed around Ike that. It was only 10 AM after all and I was still full from eating too much fried banana on waffles drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. And sausage. And cafe con leche. All right, AND a croissant with Nutella.

But I waded in a little further and realized I was in the midst of the best body surfing conditions we've seen all week, so I dunked under and caught the next big wave that came along. It carried me with it's curling momentum for a few feet and then I was up and heading back out, seeking the next ride.

I can completely understand why surfing and surfers are such an extreme and dedicated culture. It's kind of a quintiscentially addictive activity, because when it works just right, it's a transcendent experience. A nice big wave comes along and you jump just at the right time, sucked for a second back into it's undertow, then propelled forward in that sweet spot right under the crest, riding toward the beach for 20, 25, 30 feet, feeling like you are an integral part of the ocean, just being pulled around by the moon like every other molecule of water. Not this separate, intrusive being, fighting to control nature like almost every other moment of our lives.

But it rarely works just right. For every perfect wave you catch, there are 20 that disappoint. Lots are too small to bother with. Some look like they'll break, but just dissolve into nothing under your body. Some crash too soon, right over your head, leaving you a salty tangled mess, disoriented for a few seconds, just long enough to miss the next wave, but still see as it passes that it would have been the one to wait for.

Some people find the ratio of success to "failure" too low to bother with and give up quickly. I find myself saying "I'll just ride one more wave and then get out." I wait and jump and dunk and swim and glide and finally get one that carries me all the way to a sand-filled bathing suit and then I go back for 1 more again and again and again until 45 minutes have gone by along with my window for reapplying sunscreen. I'm pink and exhausted and still it's an effort to will myself away from the water, because look, that next wave could be the best one yet. I'm like a gambling addict playing the slots, sure that with this next quarter, I'll hit the jackpot. But this is vacation and I've got time and calories to burn, so as long as I keep the SPF high, I can indulge my addiction.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Week 12: Preparing to be on my own...

In Week 11 and 12 Julia is getting us ready for life after The Artist's Way book. But as I reported back in Week 6,  I've been converted to the religion of creativity so I won't stop with the practices and guidelines set out in the book. But I do need constant reminders, so I'm glad for all the tasks in these last weeks that have me making plans and lists of things to do as I go on.

One task that was actually pretty hard was to make a list of 10 dreams or desires for each of 7 categories: Career, Health, Possessions, Leisure, Relationships, Creativity and Spirituality. That's 70 things to want! But I've learned through this process that making lists longer than you think they should be usually brings out the most interesting and unexpected answers. Now I have lots of lovely images to visualize and meditate on as I do my daily walks. Because....

I started reading Vein of Gold the very day I did my last check in for The Artist's Way. In this book, I still do morning pages and Artist Dates, but I also add a 20 min walk when I think about things I want in my life. I love it already. I almost always get back to my desk feeling inspired and motivated. I've even realized that sometimes these things I want are a little scary because they are just so different from what I have now. So it's good to spend a little time each day getting used to the idea of being a rich, successful hit songwriter full of great ideas who takes Caribbean vacations, has a garden and a letterpress print shop in her shed, and somehow stays skinny even though she eats amazing cheese and drinks fun cocktails every night. It's hard to quite understand why that would be scary, because it sounds awesome on paper. Does anyone else feel a little scared of getting what they want?

So what can I say at the end of this process? Well, I guess mostly that it's not the end. I've learned a ton, but I won't stop learning, trying, failing and getting back up again. That's what life is, right? But I do really like being pushed and nudged and nurtured and affirmed by the book. I think it would be awesome if we could all do that for each other out there in the real world. I'm gonna try a little bit every day. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weeks 9-11: The Holiday Drag

Where has the time gone? It was Thanksgiving and Christmas and Boxing Day and then New Year's and then the girls trip to Sedona and I fins that almost 2 months have gone by, and I haven't worked through 3 weeks of The Artist's Way. I haven't given it up totally. I've been doing morning pages and some of the tasks, but just slowly. And giving myself much more than a week to get through a "week." During Week 10, in my morning pages, it came out that I'm scared of getting through the whole book and that is probably a big reason for the stalling. I feel pressure to have some kind of big, momentous transformation or success at the end of the book. And I'm scared that I'll be lost and stop growing without Julia's guidance. As soon as I wrote that, I felt the pressure lifting. Not that I made it through Week 11 any faster, but at least I know why.