Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
— Mark Twain
I love the insights some of you are sharing! What you are noticing, and what Julia promises for the rest of us, is that our blocking devices will begin to fail. The more we are aware that fear is what these habits are about, the more we can feel our U-turns as we make them.
Instead of reflexively distracting or numbing our fearfulness, Julia observes, “Over time, we will try – perhaps slowly at first and erratically – to ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge.” Like skidding on ice, gradually, we can learn how to turn into the momentum. If we don’t fight it, we will not crash. Instead, we can learn to skate.
We don’t have to eliminate our fear, which is what blocking attempts to do. In fact, it is very useful. She explains, “Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with, work with.”
If you feel the creativity spooks sneaking up, instead of grabbing your favorite block to fill up that uncomfortable place, slow down. Notice. And then see if you can’t use that discomfort to energize your next micromovement. For recovering artists, anxiety often means that creativity is knocking on the door. Go with it. Let it in and see what happens!
This is hard stuff, and there are some more challenging steps ahead in this chapter. So I suggest that today, we take a much-needed break and skip ahead to one of our exercises. I think we all deserve it, don’t you?
Touchstones: Make a quick list of things you love – happiness touchstones for you. According to the dictionary, a touchstone is a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated.
Our happiness touchstones are things, people, items, that we can reference over and over. Compared to whatever else may be happening, they remind us that happiness is always available. They awaken something deep and intimate for us. They inspire us, they ground and reconnect us to ourselves in gentle, highly personal ways. They are often quite ordinary to the untrained eye, but to us, they are magical treasures.
Julia lists for herself things like river rocks worn smooth, willow trees, cornflowers, homemade vegetable soup, real Italian bread, Her Aunt Minnie’s crumb pie… (I love that she has a generous helping of food touchstones!)
What are some of yours?
Put this list where it can console you and remind you of your own personal kinds of happiness. You might want to draw some of the items, or you could make a little altar with pictures or actual items if you have them.
Be playful. Be adventurous. Let your imagination guide you.
Please share if you’d like!