Two things happened last week that smacked me down and left me wallowing in a murky pit of miserable. . .
- Flew back to Trinidad after a California Easter and a stop-over in New York with my family.
- Opened a letter from Candlewick Press saying my heart-project DAD AND POP was going out of print.
Then, email brought news of a third, tragic event that dwarfed any issues I might have: A friend’s husband died suddenly—no warning at all. One day he was here, all be it, feeling peckish; the next gone.
Knowledge of my friend’s loss made me recount my largess But, instead of snapping me out of it in that what-the-heck-are-you-moping-about-for-be-grateful-and-get-on-with-it way, the realization of how tenuous it was, how in an instant—any instant—I could lose all I hold dear, sank me.
A TED TALK saved me.
Completely unmotivated to even try to “Get over it, and get on with it,” as my friend Beverly always says, by doing something productive (say unpacking, cooking, or going for a walk), I’d pulled on my fuddiest wallowing clothes, plopped down in front of the computer, and gone Facebook surfing—which depressed me even more as every post seemed entirely too jolly, successful, oozing with cheer—so had moved onto email. As I subscribe to TED TALKS, new lecture notices are delivered to my email. I don’t always listen to each talk, but I think about it. Having reached the end of the new mail, I had a choice to make: sift through junk mail & spam or listen.
The TED TALK was by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and recently The Signature of All Things. (As it happens, I’d recently finished the latter, which was pleasantly, surprisingly, nothing like the former—probably the reason I clicked “play” rather than “delete”.)
Gilbert’s talk was titled "Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating."
In the midst of her talk, Gilbert threw out the fully inflated life preserver I needed.
She described how extreme success and extreme failure feel the same to our sub-conscious. Although polar opposites, in terms of the havoc they wreck on us physiologically—both elicit extreme emotional responses—success and failure feel the same to our sub-conscious. They both have the ability to unbalance us, much the way one lemon too many on either side tips the scales.
Via my interpretation of Gilbert (Listen yourself for more) When we are dangling helplessly, from one end or the other of our balance poles there are two choices:
#1 Quit and just hang there until we fall
#2 Head down, eyes open, set a course for HOME and start walking/working our way back.
Simple really, right?
Sure. If you’ve got the ruby slippers, know how to use them, and where you want them to take you. . .
But, before we can fight our way back HOME, we must discover/uncover/recognize:
What is HOME?
For Dorothy, it took a tornado; for me a TED TALK.
That’s why I was so miserable. My Home, that to which I as Gilbert defines it “Can dedicate [my] energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential" is comprised of two things: my family and my work. In the past week, I’ve registered both success and failure. And my friend’s loss was a threat reminder of how easy it is to lose one’s HOME.
One wrong wind is all it take. . .
For me finding my way back HOME, meant scheduling time with my family. And, even though I didn't have the energy for it--getting back to writing.
Dang in Elizabeth-baby wasn’t right! It didn’t take long before I began feeling more centered. I knew it for sure when, part way into this blog, a song popped into my head. I'm not in tune--yet--but at least I’m singing again.
Where’s your HOME? Could you find your way back?
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