This story flowed out of my fingers a few days ago in one sitting. That certainly doesn't happen every time. I sat at the table after eating lunch, still wearing the clothes I wear on my late morning walk with Ernest (which lately have a yummy mix of rain water, sweat, dog drool, and other nature on them). I have a desk in the corner where I often work but sometimes I find myself feeling more loose and creative sitting at the eating table. I notice now that the particular physical environment my body chose aligns with what unfolded.
I considered sharing this in a two part(i)er. If you're new here, two part(i)ers are two part-ers renamed as two partiers because I like the word party. I share the first part of a story one week and then the second part of a story the following week.
As you'll see I am choosing to share the whole tale in one go. Really, I didn't want to leave you for a whole week wondering about what's behind the doors!
🚰 An invitation now to go grab a big cup of water (since maybe your body wants some water?) or some tea or coffee. Maybe if it's possible, move the device you're reading this on to a spot that's more comfortable for your body...
(you know what, too, I come back to certain newsletters I receive when I have the time and capacity to read the whole thing in one sitting, rather than just skimming through it when it pops into my inbox. Maybe this one is welcomed into a ritual like this of yours?)
Let's begin with a question:
Have you ever noticed a pattern of yours that just irks you and makes you squirm but you can't seem to shake?
This pattern isn't so bad that it dramatically affects your life but it is quite annoying each time it bumps into you – and your inner parts bump into it.
The pattern I'm feeling right now is feeling similar to when I try on a shirt that's slightly too tight in the shoulders and armpits. I have the passing thought of "If I hunch my shoulders just a bit it'll work...." and then rush to struggle my way out of it.
Anywho, the specific pattern for me right now is when I shift from being creative and playful with something and I love it so much and want to continue it and then I adjust some elements about it and maybe make a commitment to continue it for awhile longer. I find a sweet home for it in my daily routine, start reading some books from the library about the thing's topic, read a bunch online about the topic, and maybe find some podcasts to listen to on the topic too!
And then I wake up one day and notice I've made this creative and playful something into A THING that must be taken seriously.
Now there's usually some joy still there (or else I probably would have already fond a way to can it altogether) but the joy is diminishing as the days go on.
It gets really hard and headache-inducing when the thing is something I really do want to continue and develop long-term. I can't just shake it out of my routine and move on. I need to find a way to stick with it.
Now today, I'm here with this irk-some pattern and I see two doors before me.
I already know what's behind this door without even opening it. It's sticking with the pattern and continuing to be more and more "serious" about thing. Learning all I can about the thing, becoming a pro or maybe even an expert in the thing. Telling myself I am finding everything I can about this thing and so I'm getting better at the thing. The pattern is so happy it gets to stick around too but it really is the only element that's still happy at this point. The thing I've become so serious about isn't happy nor am I.
I haven't before felt I had two choices with this pattern. I didn't know there was a door #2. The pattern opens this door a smidge, peeks one eye through and shuts it with all its might. For this door means the death of this pattern. But this door also means that the thing might actually have a chance at LIFE.
I already know everything behind door #1. Today I want to choose the other path. So even though the pattern and I struggle with one another for a bit, I sense how much larger and stronger I am than the pattern and eventually I pick the pattern up and kindly place its squirmy body to the side.
Turning the knob, I open door #2 and enter.
Chaotic colors swirl around the edges of my body. Joy flows into my body through the tips of all my fingers and toes. In front of me I see a group of children huddling around an experiment gone wrong – or very, very right! – they have mixed together everything they could find in the forest... torn up leaves, mushed up berries, charcoal from a fire long gone, tiny pebbles from the creek bed, and mud lots and lots of mud... and now they're spreading their experiment on top of all the logs surrounding them with chubby cheeks caked in dirt and a few dimples somehow still shining through.
They invite me over and we smear this experiment on our toes and one kid exclaims that it's just like the exfoliation cream his mom uses but never lets her try.
We're tired from all the smearing and all the laughing and we hose ourselves down and we walk together further into this unexplored realm.
We find real living creatures who are exactly like the pages in those flip books where you can flip one half of the page to reveal the head of a zebra and the other half page to reveal the bottom half of a kangaroo. The creatures talk with us in all their own languages, and the kids and I can fully understand their sharings and join in on the creatures' endeavors. The creatures have been building something using unusual tools they have stored in their work aprons.
Some of the creatures lend us tools they aren't using. I'm handed a large coffee mug that when I shake it butterflies fly out.
The child beside me is handed a tool they're trying to figure out how to use. The creature grabs it back from the child and proceeds to yell into one of the tubes on the tool. The creature is zapped INSIDE of the tool and the tool hits the floor. With the creature within the tool, she starts running and the tool rolls and paints a long mural on the floor... a long mural of the creature inside.
The creature yells as loud as she can and zaps back into full size form out of the tool. She hands it over to the child and even before the child has it in their hands they're yelling, beyond ready to leap into the tool itself and make a mural of themselves on the floor.
Clanks and hollers abound as we all construct this indescribable thing together. The creatures start exclaiming what a masterpiece it is and us human creatures start to understand that something has shifted.
The air starts to smell of freshly picked berries and the more-than-human creatures begin to dance and sing around the masterpiece. Baskets of berries and every fruit imaginable are carried in by elders rolling in in florescent pink wheelchairs and slowly and regally stepping in with massively tall walking sticks – each holding a dripping sugar water fountain and elegant flowers at the top. Hummingbirds nose dive from above the elders.
The kids and the more-than-human creatures accept the baskets with smiles and hugs and we all try all the fruits we want.
"Your ability to be serious is valuable, yes it is" one of the elders nearby starts to speak out.
"Just don't let it run the show!" Another hollers as he tips his wheelchair back, hands sticky with peach juice, one hand slaps the floor and sticks, holding him steady as he lifts his body and his chair up over, wheels spinning in the air... (there's a reason his friends call him "breakdancing Baba").
The party has no end in sight but some are getting tired and walk over to an area I can't really make out.
A heavy fog rolls through, or more so, we roll through and into the heavy fog. The fog carries clouds dense enough to hold our bodies, and children, creatures and elders alike lean into the fog's embrace.
"Rest is play, too" someone sighs as they tuck themselves in under a comforter of fog.
"Hmm mmmm" another says right before she drops into dreamscape.
All the beings I've met are now deep asleep. I stand there, surrounded by everything and everyone quietly floating on endless blankets of fog.
I wander back to where door #2 still stands. I turn back to see my new friends bobbing while they dream and our shared masterpiece surrounded by tipped over baskets with hummingbirds still dancing, slurping remaining drips of fruit and flower sugars.
I touch the somehow-sticky-with-fruit-juice door knob, sensing all the creativity and joy from this place flow into my blood stream and nervous system, slowing and deepening my breath.
"We're not going anywhere," a soft voice comes from below and behind me. One of the youngest children tugs at my pant leg. I ask if she wants a hug and she says "yes, please" and I bend down. We embrace. "Thank you so much," I exhale into her hair.
"Go now and we'll see you next time." She pushes out of our embrace and sleepily stumbles back to her fog bed.
I'm open the door and walk through back into the hallway with the two doors. I see door #1 and sense a new appreciation for seriousness, learning all I can, and following directions, plans, and routines. Yes, all this is valuable and necessary. And yet, in this moment I choose to let something else run the show.
I pick up the heap of the pattern I left behind. Tangled up and sleeping from exhaustion, the pattern needs a good tuck into bed, too.
I turn to face door #2, looking upon it and trusting I'll be back again tomorrow.
As I share these words with you, I am curious what's going on with you? Related to this story or not.
Til next time,
P.S. Want to play around with whatever was brought to the surface in reading this tale? Add something to the Collective Retrospective Mural board.
Here's a bit of an intro about it that I wrote in my last post:
I just made this Venn diagram retrospective beginning on a virtual whiteboard-type tool called Mural. You can access it right now (or come back when you have a moment) as a visitor and add your words to the circles. (password: toucHINGintogETHER!?)
I'm sharing this offering not as a grief counselor or therapist. I'm sharing this offering as a human who desires to host spaces for learning about all facets of change and belonging. Maybe this Venn diagram can facilitate a slice of that. Maybe not. Who knows how it will unfold! That's the playful experiment of it all, yeah?
I also made this short video in which I share with you how to start using Mural.
See you in Mural or here next week!