Let's try a different window...

May I begin by saying that Cheryl Strayed slays me?

I'm three miles outside of Sierra City with her and have been unable to put WILD down. Each chapter is definitely, definitely the last, and then well, maybe just one more....Cheryl and the Monster and her big ol' boot. I'm trying to reserve judgement on the 'boot as cover' thing until I finish the story tomorrow. That boot has a campy ring to me - a little bit like being a Montanan flipping through an LL Bean catalog. Just feels kinda funny. And clean.

But man, Cheryl knows how to write it. It's the third time I've read her and the third time I've wept.

What can I say? The woman is utterly willing to lay it out. Here it is, folks. It's called life. Eat it. Not the 'cram it down your throat' kind of eat, but definitely a feast with appetite. Her writing is a window into her, including what a dumb ass she can be. Thank you, Cheryl, for being far more wiling than most of us to admit to idiocy out loud. Hooray for failure every day!

Part of my spontaneous weeping is the storm of my own terror rushing up to meet the beautiful, bold truth of her writing. What if I never make it onto the page like that? What if the dam inside me, holding back all these words, never bursts? I've yet to figure out what it takes to just write. Write like, every day. You know, for real.

These were the woes I was spilling to Nicole and to the hardened guerrilla cafe countertop this morning at breakfast. Literally, my head lay upon the cold slab, right next to my beautiful latte in a bowl and the mint spring atop her waffle. At that point, Nicole just leaned over and loved on me for a minute, and amazingly I let her, trying to breathe. Actually, I was breathing just fine because it is, in fact, all just fine. I wasn't upset or feeling crappy -- it was more like, curious. Why is it so bleedin' hard to write? What's this sloth that slips between my sheets, weighing me down by day? Why must these blobs of torpor block the creative path? What's it gonna take to just write?

God bless good friends; Nicole told me, in not so many words, that my perfectionism is throwing me under my own bus. And she's absolutely right. I know it, I just don't know what the heck to do about it.  See, I've got this burn, an itch that Nicole called ambition, to do something amazing for the world. More specifically, I want to write a kick ass book. I want people to laugh and cry and come alive when they read it. Not because my story is any more compelling than anyone else's, but because I think people need opportunities in this world to feel things. To do the laughing and the crying, to be moved and make meaning and wonder and slow down. I want to reach people, to offer every last one of them moments like Cheryl just offered me -- moments that manage to slip in and widen the crevices of our hearts.

I will probably say it a thousand more time before mid-July: I signed up for this. I set the whole bloody stage. I now realise that in order to make myself Do the Work, I've had to tell every single person I've ever known that I'm doing it and that I couldn't possibly dream of completing the task without praying my way through the entire thing. Oh Lord, help me.  

It's just so easy to fall out of synch, to stray from the breath -- the mind making a quagmire of the Divine, the flow winding its way from somewhere else, to here, to you.

You, whoever you are.

So, Nicole set up a plan with me. I'm setting a goal to blog every single day. I will ask a different person each week to be my accountability buddy. Any takers? All it requires is that you set a reminder to 9pm for the week and when it goes off, check my blog. If there's not a new post, you text me. That's it! Simple as that. And you even get to choose what to say in the text, according to your mood. Maybe one day you're encouraging, another your compassionate. Or perhaps you'll flatly lambast me, and let's face it, I've asked for it. No, I need it. I swear this year is determined to teach me once and for all that I can't do this life thing by myself. God is tired of hearing about how independent I am, how tidily I can manage it all. Yeah, yeah the angels are saying, we've let you get away with this self-sufficiency thing long enough. You're not an island, you've never been one nor will you ever be. You're human! Paul & Art were wrong, humans are seldom the rocks and islands they think they are.

The angels have a point. My mom tells the story of how even at age 4, I'd be tearing around some corner, bite the dust and eat dirt. She'd rush over to try and wipe blood from my face or pick gravel from my knee, but I'd brush her away with I'm fine! and scamper off to the next grand adventure. What I'm saying is I've been determined to "take care of myself" my whole life. Nicole's concrete suggestion is at least one thing I can do help others help me to just write. I've kept a whole lot inside the pack on my back, bearing its burden just like Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail. But you know what? It's getting old. So now I gotta let this stuff out daily and I don't even know what 'this stuff' is! Just me, I guess...me, and God.

Little ol' me, ain't got nothin' new under the sun to tell, ain't got nothin' but this stick and this hobo shell...gonna carry me on down the road, carry me on down the road.

Of course, Nicole just went off grid into Yosemite. We didn't think about that. In less than an hour, somewhere deep in the Sierras, a little bell will go off in her pocket. She won't know whether I've posted or managed another day of glorious failure. Duh. Oh well, she'll be thinking of me just the same, and some part of me will hear the ding, my own little reminder that despite what it seems, even hobos don't do their walkin' alone.


Sara McClure Cox

Author's ex is MSO guy. Coincidence? As they say....... it is a small world after all. Stop spinning yourself in circles. Meditate on retiring unhelpful habits. Straight line to the sun. Enjoy the ride for the ride is short. listen........ has a friend ever said this message to you before? Listen. Write, do handstands, live. Or, lay on the ground and wait for puppies in the clouds. Question less and laugh your ass off. You may even write your damn book in the meantime. With love obviously.

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