You see, lately I’ve felt stuck. At least artistically. Call it writer’s block, ego resistance, creative constipation - whatever. It sucks. A lot.
It’s weird to experience this type of block at this point in my life when I have such an awareness OF it. Shouldn’t it just go away because, I’ve done all this personal work and I’m soooo self aware and I meditate and pray and do yoga and eat mostly vegan? That’s how it works, right? I mean, aren’t those the keys to living a soul-centered, free, intuitive and happy life? (If this was a text message, the winky face would go right here). Yes, all of these practices are lovely and helpful and keep me from floating too high or going too insane but they’re not easy fixes. You can’t sidestep around your “stuff” forever. Because at some point it may prevent you from moving on to where you really want to go. Your purpose. Your soul’s plan. What you’re actually doing here.
This person I was born as WANTS to freely create - to reach a wide audience - to be seen, heard, and read. To spread a message. Many messages. Many mediums! I can feel the projects, the words, the images within me that want to come out. Yet there’s been something holding it all back. And so instead, in the past couple of months, I have been allowing only the tiniest bit of creative energy to dribble out. It’s almost like I’ve placed some type of kitchen colander underneath my creative flow. Like my artistic vision is the pasta and the water is the… bits of approved-idea-flavored… vision… output… ahhhh. I’m lost here. And that makes no sense. See! I’m mashing non-working metaphors. And I’m so exhausted by myself that I’m not even turning around to pick up the pieces! I told you - I’ve been blocked. I’ve even opened up my old copy of The Artist’s Way - the one that I’ve had for nearly 9 years. The one that every time I peel back the pages and see that bookmark/coupon for a sale at Anna’s Linens - the one that expired in August of 2009 - I’m reminded how much we really do circle back to the same things in life. Perhaps we are now looking from a different vantage point but it’s still the same sight we’re checking out.
For me, specifically, this block or fear manifests as perfectionism and a splash of OCD. (Fun). Basically I start to write, to imagine, to work on an image, to plan out a scene and… nothing. I stop before I can get anywhere. My head is filled with echoes of “that’s shit.” “You’re shit.” And then I start to replay - in a maddeningly compulsive manner - every single time the world has reflected back to me that I was, in fact, shit. Or every time I acted on my impulse - on my instinct- and I ruined something or hurt someone. Yep, it’s ugly and incapacitating.
So, back to the burning bush. On July 4th, I went for a hike in the mountains. Since it was party time in the USA and it was crazy hot out, I was one of only four people I saw that day trekking up the Verdugos. It was beautiful except for the incessant voice in my head. My OCD was raring and I couldn’t stop obsessing over past instances and all of the projects I had stopped midway to completion. I was trying to get to the bottom of this behavior and I thought nature would be a great companion and guide. While on the trail, I was tossing about several theories in my head until I was struck with a particular epiphany. I’ll spare you the specifics but it felt gross in my gut and right in my heart. What a poignant observation. Wow, brain. Thanks. You do good work.
I stared out between two trees and took a deep breath. I felt a quiet calm. A bit of peace. It lasted for several seconds until I started wondering what I should do next with this piece of information. If that’s my WHY then, what do I do now?? Suddenly, I heard a loud rustling in the bushes behind me. I turned around to see bunches of leaves and twigs sliding down to the path. The sheer amount of falling debris made it seem like what was behind me was much bigger than a bird or a squirrel. Scared that it was a mountain lion (recently spotted in these parts) I booked it down the trail. What the fuck!! A lion???! I had no idea if you’re supposed to run or stare it in the face and yell or throw something at it, but instinct took over and I bolted. I kept looking over my shoulder but didn’t see an animal chasing me. Once I was far enough away, I was able to see the spot where I had been standing. And this was when I noticed giant FLAMES coming up from the trees. It was no mountain lion, it was a brush fire. One that started right WHERE I was standing, right WHEN I was standing there.
And, yes, this is the point in the story where I run faster than I ever have in my life. On a mountain trail. Alone. In 90 degree heat. As having never experienced a brush fire firsthand, I had no idea how fast they spread. And I was probably about 2 miles up from the ground. So, yes, I ran fast. Finally I made it down to the bottom of the trail wearing quite a rosy shade of shock. I gave a statement to the cops and firemen who were waiting at the bottom, snapped a photo of the scene and went on my way.
And it was. For me, this fire was a sign to spark and DO. To brush by and quickly destroy the old thoughts, ruminations, if onlys, and self-judgments. Set fire to the fears and take off running. To take action. Freely. To just GET THE FUCK ON WITH MY WORK ALREADY. Because no one else is going to do it for me. Ever.
It’s quite funny but on my way to this hike I actually said those words to my sister. It’s embarrassing to admit that even though I’ve always been super independent and outwardly against “needing a man,” I had still secretly been waiting for some cool and artistic cross between Joaquin Phoenix and Channing Tatum to show up in my life as my partner and to get me started on my path. Like I couldn’t do it without him. It feels like an inherited societal belief but still, I have to take responsibility for holding it. So earlier that day when I had uncovered this belief, I actually exclaimed to my sister - yes, it was full exclaim - “I make things happen for me! No one else is going to!” And then I went on to say that we shouldn’t wait for situations to improve or for people to show up- we should act as we want THEM to- we should DO. But then, while I was on the trail, I got stuck in my head. Until that fire.
So, yes, it was quite a sign. To jump off the treadmills of my mind’s oldest and most boring thoughts and to take off running on the unknown trails of the future. Out there.
I know signs are only what you believe them to be but this one was quite undeniable. I’ve had too many instances of synchronicity to ignore them. So I don’t. Like the time I was deciding whether or not I should continue dating this redheaded actor I was having misgivings about. I asked what I should do and a second later looked at the license plate in front of me. It said “REDHEAD. ” Yeah. Really. Or the time I couldn’t understand this intense connection I felt towards an acquaintance and while walking in Target I asked for guidance on what this connection meant. Since, well, it made no sense and the relationship was completely doomed even though I felt such a close connection to him. I asked, “Who is this person? Why this person??” Simultaneously, I was walking down the makeup aisle and a particular shade of red lipstick jumped out at me. It was the perfect color that I had been looking for. I then flipped it over to see what the shade was called: “Soulmate.” I know, it sounds cheesy. And old fluffy romantic ideas about soulmates definitely are. But there’s no doubt that’s what that connection was - a ton of personal growth for me from a soul level. It was all soul-mate, even if he could never be a human-mate.
So I listen. Signs are real. It’s just what meaning you put on them and what action you choose to take from them. When you’re tossed about in this world, totally confused and frustrated, these instances can be exactly the comfort you need. Like little love taps from the unseen realms- little nudges from the universe that we are seen, we are heard, and we are right where we need to be.