On Friday I got an email from our phenomenal writing coach, Christi Krug. I’m involved in a local girl power kind of thing right now and Christi, being kind enough to participate, sent me a picture of herself at the airport. She was on her way to Spain to do a 250 mile hike. By herself. Let that sink in for a sec.
It’s a centuries-old pilgrimage called “El Camino de Santiago” in Spain. She stopped in at a hostel that had Internet access. Her email was just as delightful as she is. She smiles when she talks. Even when you can’t see her, you hear it. You can see and hear her smile in her emails, too.
On Monday I got another email from Christi. She asked if I got her pictures or if they went into my spam folder. I told her I got them and I thanked her for them. And then I launched into all the stupid reasons I hadn’t written back. I was working on a website. I finished proof reading a manuscript. I even said “Whew!” and then told her what I was about to do, which is work on my novel.
I. Totally. Suck.
First, she didn’t need an excuse for me not responding. She didn’t ask for one. She simply asked if I got her pictures and attached them, just in case.
Second, when you tell someone all the reasons you were too busy to do something you may as well say there were more important things on your to-do list. And that wasn’t at all what I meant. And if that isn’t what you mean, that isn’t what you should say. Nor is it what you should do.
Third, do you see anywhere in my response where I asked how she was doing? If it was everything she’d hoped it would be? Me, neither.
Finally – and this is the big one – why the hell didn’t I just tell the truth? The truth is I was tickled pink she thought to email the pictures while she was in Spain. But I read her email on my phone sans glasses, just before getting out of bed. I can’t see worth a shit without my glasses, but I can zoom stuff out and still sort of read. Typing an email on my iPhone? Forget it. And then I did forget. That sounded kind of stupid in my head, so I rambled about being “busy.”
As soon as I clicked “send” it hit me like a ton of bricks. Here’s the question we should all be asking ourselves:
What is wrong with us as a society that we place so much value on the business of being busy rather than the stillness of being still?
I committed a few months ago to winding down my web business so I can focus on writing. By “winding down” I mean finishing existing projects. I’ve managed to sneak in 4 or 5 projects, kind of sneaked them in under the wire. I’ve spent time diagnosing and fixing some issues that recently popped up for a couple of clients. Clients I haven’t heard from in months have been contacting me in the last week.
My head and my heart feel like a 20-car pileup happened somewhere inside of me and I have to clear out all the vehicles before I can get back to writing my novel. The thick walls of my skull house the idea that if I can just get through all the work stuff right! now! I can turn a fresh page and everything will be all tea and zen and The Muse will flutter down and ever-so-gently alight on my shoulder and I’ll write and write and write and finish the first draft of my novel before Halloween. Crock of shit. Because there is always “just one more thing” waiting in the shadows. I don’t care what anyone says or how hard we want to believe it. It’s there.
The reality is that while I was being all kinds of bullshit busy, she was being all kinds of meaningful busy, doing something super important for herself, an inner journey. I might have been a teensy bit wishful. Not jealous or envious, mind you. That implies some sort of ill will, I think, and I’m truly happy for her to go on such a huge trek. And I don’t even wish I were on El Camino de Santiago at this moment, instead of here. I think it’s that I just wish I were actually here. Present. In the moment. Doing what matters to me most, the way she is doing what matters most to her.
In fairness to me, I did squeak out “Hope you’re not just enjoying your journey, but that you’re fully immersed in a deeply meaningful way for you. I’m so happy for you and your trek!”
The universe has its way of trying desperately to tell me to knock it off. Slow down. I never bothered to renew my business license, so I got a stern letter this week from the Secretary of State informing me of the dissolution of my business. I can no longer legally take on paying clients. I did my last one as a favor to someone last weekend, a labor of much, much love, I should add.
One of my clients, to whom I was introduced by Christi and with whom I have become friends, passed along the name and email of a young woman in my area who also does what I do. She’s willing to take my clients over for me and take care of them. I’ve seen her portfolio. I know what she does “under the hood.” She’s fabulous. I feel the rightness of it in my bones. I’m meeting with her this weekend to get into the particulars.
It’s not the same as heading across the pond to hike 250 miles alone in Spain, but in its essence it is. Because what Christi is doing is what I need to do, what we all need to do: be still inside, reflect, listen to your own inner wisdom.
I don’t know what Christi’s inner wisdom will tell her, nor do I want to know. It’s none of my business. But I can tell you what my own inner wise woman is saying:
Stop writing code, start writing words.
That’s precisely what I’m going to do.