Currently I’m reading The Anthologist wherein the protagonist suffers from a severe writer’s block. Sound familiar? It’s uncanny reading a situation so similar to and distinct from my own, and I haven’t yet put my finger on whether I enjoy the commiseration or if the parallel is discomforting. For example, it does raise (very small) worries that my partner might, too, grow weary of my moroseness and non-writing and leave me. But when I lightheartedly point out that fear by reading aloud a certain section to him, he assures me that he’s more than with me for the long haul.
So, like my fellow protagonist, I came to my desk today complete with the intention of writing. I opened my document, I found the place I left off…and then I stared. I fidgeted. I decided to do my bills, make some phone calls, worry a little more about the future. I came back and…I stared. I fidgeted. Over the course of the morning and afternoon as this cycle runs its course, the sitting and staring works itself into my bones and body. My hip flexors tighten. A lot. My shoulders start to round as my chest caves and my back hunches. (How did I ever sit in these positions for 10 to 11 hours at a time?)
Today I experimented with making my practice intermittent. I sat and stared and “productively” did other chores. Then I stood and saluted the sun for twenty minutes, trying to thaw my poor hips and open my chest. My body sighs as it stretches and relieves itself through the pops of joints; I’ve come back to being a snap-crackle-pop gal. Then I return to my desk and repeat the process. Underneath it, I think about fears.
Like most folks, I have some fears. The most dominant one that I’ve been working on is my fear of water. With time and a good instructor, I’m slowly making headway. The largest fear I found in yoga was inverting. Ever since elementary school, when I learned that one wrong fall on the spine or neck could paralyze a person, I’ve been afraid of anything that put my limbs and spinal column in danger. Inversions brought it back with a vengeance, and I’d spend my class practices cursing myself, cursing my teacher, cursing my fear, and trying desperately not to curse those things when we’d move into our inversions. Slowly, timidly or even bravely, I’d plant my hands or forearms and try launch my hips in that miraculous space called alignment.
I can nearly relive the relief and pure elation that flooded me when victory came in fall 2009. (Baby steps were made with headstand, handstand, and tripod handstand but victory came only with pincha mayurasana.) And I remember feeling so much lighter: I no longer had to hold onto this fear and, somehow, I had managed to let it go. While I think that patient practice was a large part of my victory, I suspect that what really mattered was that I finally felt secure in myself. I trusted myself enough to know that, even if I fell, I would be ok. More than this, even if I fell, I could pick myself back up and try again.
I think through these fears – my lingering one of water and my past one of inversions – in order to figure out this writer’s block. Do I find the writing difficult because I find it overwhelming? Do I find it difficult because I hold an “ideal” in my head, a vision of what good writing and research looks like and reads like, and I desperately worry that I can’t attain that “ideal”? In either case, how secure do I feel in myself? Why not unload this burden – this fear – and feel my own lightness, my own confidence that, yes, I can write and I can write well?