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  • Writer's pictureHelen Gardiner-Parks

Twenty-one days

(Mikolaj on Unsplash)

I committed, I declared, and I promised to have my book edited and out of my hands by 31 December 2021 at 11:59pm. Am I going to have that happen?

Anything is possible. Anything! I have recently begun carving out three hours daily for editing—recently as in three days ago. Have I been having that happen? No, I haven’t. Two hours, yes, but not three.

I wander away from the computer to let the dog out or get a glass of water and I find myself Doing other things which Must Happen Now: sweeping, dusting, checking in with a family member, buying a holiday gift.

What is the avoidance about? Where is the procrastination coming from?

I can experience editing as a tsunami surrounding and overwhelming me so I prefer not to engage—purely as a safety measure, you understand. On the edges of the tsunami it is quiet, where the first few chapters are, and it is tempting, oh so tempting, to return there and go through them, tweaking a word here or there for the umpteenth time rather than delving into how to fit buying diet pills at Kmart into the narrative further on.

So just what was the relationship between speed and the ingredients of diet pills available in the mid-eighties? Inquiring minds want to know, yes, but must we? Does it move the story along?

No. It was a rabbit hole that tripped me up and used my three precious hours to accomplish nothing useful. Now maybe if I’d become addicted to speed or diet pills it would be relevant, but I didn’t so it’s not. It is serving only as a distraction. A powerful distraction—a mirage, honestly, because it beckons me with false promises.

I got spammed by my own mind.

I saw this yesterday: “Be like a postage stamp; stick to one thing until you get there.” (Josh Billings)

Wild horses come to mind. I experience my mind as a herd of wild horses thundering through me. The thing is, I am a powerful wrangler. I can tame the herd—no, actually, not tame—I can harness their energy for good. Harness it by listening to it. Not force it one way or another, but notice where it wants to go. The horses flow in concert with each other; they know where they’re going and they are effective at getting there when we don’t interfere.

(Fabian Burghardt on Unsplash)

I get to respect that power; tap into it.

I was surrounded by wild horses on a mountainside in Virginia one afternoon in late summer and I experienced awe; I experienced wonder. I felt special and powerful that they allowed me to approach them, pet them.

But they weren’t there for me and my strokes, they weren’t there for my attention; they were there to escape the dangers of the storm they sensed and I would have done well to follow. They were being the postage stamp. In my own way I, too, was being postage stamp as I went doggedly up the mountain into the rain, the thunder, the lightning, but I was postage stamp to a reckless ego commitment to make it to a particular shelter on a particular day, not postage stamp to vision and intuition and personal safety. Instead of listening to the horses I went into the storm and had a harrowing hike over exposed rock in a downpour which put me at risk of both electrocution and hypothermia. To add insult to injury, there was a super-snorer in the shelter who kept me awake all night.

What would have happened had I been postage stamp to the energy of the situation rather than ego foolishness?

I get to listen to the horses and tap into their flow today; they know what they’re doing and I commit to trusting them.

*** I am a nutritional therapist writing a memoir of addiction and disordered eating; I am here to support you on your own path to healing. Contact me about my next series of sugar-detox classes or about individual sessions with me.

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