I am in awe of the magical power of books; how one line, concept, or idea can permanently shift my perception like a key that unlocks meaning that had always been there, but I had been unable to see. This is the case with one of the books I’m reading now Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I started this book several times over the last five years, never getting past the introduction. It is clear to me now that I just wasn’t ready to read it, and now I am. This book has given me so much insight into my life by providing me with a key to unlock an amazingly vibrant element I had no idea existed. It is as if I had been living in black and white, and when I put the key in the door and opened it, my life exploded into vibrant color. The book has helped me uncover a wealth of creativity that was lying just under my skin patiently waiting for me to acknowledge it. As I read, certain concepts Estes discussed awakened a part of me that had been dormant and this awakening triggered a kind of recognition within me. In this book, Estes provides the thread, that if followed, leads to one epiphany after another. Things that had no meaning to me previously, things that just were, are now filled with meaning and make sense on a much deeper level than I ever thought possible. The message I’ve gotten so far is to pay attention to everything, that there is meaning in the things that I do and the choices that I make even if I believe at the time they are benign. I am able to look back now and see clearly the meaning behind my actions.
There have been so many threads to follow so far, but one I want to discuss today is Estes’ discussion on the importance of space clearing for women. She says:
Sometimes women become confused about soulful work, and neglect its architecture till it is taken back by the forest. Gradually the structures of the psyche are overgrown until they finally are but a hidden archeologic ruin in the psyche’s unconscious. A cyclical and critical sweeping will prevent this from occurring. When women have cleared space, the wild nature will better thrive (93).
Looking back, I can see a distinct cycle of urgent space clearing in my life. It is as if I reach a certain point of overgrowth, and I can no longer tolerate it. Then I purge as much from my life as possible usually in a panic. What usually follows is an increase in creativity and creative ideas, but then the energy gained from the purging begins to wane, and the beginnings of weeds emerge casting their shadows until there is nothing but overgrowth again. Now I can clearly see the cyclical nature of this in my life. I can see how I clear space for creativity in gigantic, but short-lived bursts – a kind of binge and purge. I now know that the key to getting out of this too-long cycle is to work on sustainability and the creation of a personalized ritual for space clearing both mentally and physically that I can perform regularly and not just on the cusp of spring.
This idea of space clearing reminded me of something that happened many, many years ago. I had just started taking classes at the local college and was in need of a computer. I was watching an episode of Oprah with Suze Orman, and they were discussing the idea of creating space for what you wanted in your life. The idea was that if you did not have any space in your life for those things you wanted, there was no way they could manifest. So, as a kind of experiment, I cleared off a desk in my living room and made sure it stayed empty as if the computer were already there. In a way, I nurtured that empty space by keeping it clear of clutter. Shortly thereafter, I was made aware that my credit union offered a personal loan for the purchase of a computer, and even though I had terrible credit at the time, I went ahead and applied for the loan. A week later I received notice that I was approved for the loan and the funds for the computer were directly deposited into my bank account so that I could purchase the computer of my choice. Within another week, the computer I had wanted was sitting in the empty space I had created for it. It was a powerful and positive outcome to the experiment, but in the chaos of life, I lost the lesson I had learned about creating space for the things that I wanted to come into my life.
With Estes’ reminder and the epiphany that followed, I realized that I needed to clear space to create in, but also for those things I wished to create. I cleaned up my writing room that had become overgrown with papers, books, and all sorts of excess junk from other rooms in the house. I made the decision to treat writing as a job and cleared time in my daily schedule specifically for writing. The results have been nothing short of astounding. After not having written anything in three months, I have written several blog posts, three manuscripts for children’s books, and five chapters of my novel in the last two weeks. I do realize, though, that to keep this momentum going, I must continue to look for ways to prune away the clutter in my life. One such way emerged on Sunday evening. I realized that the bookshelves in my writing room (six of them) are filled to capacity with books and magazines. It dawned on me that I had no empty space in which the things I wish to create – books – can manifest in my life. So, this week I cleared off a shelf of books as a way to create space for the books I wish to create. In doing so, I am making room for these books to exist here in the physical world and in a way, I am giving the ideas in my head permission to emerge into that empty space and as such, clear the space in my head for new ideas to emerge. I imagine, at some point, as I nurture and grow my own ideas, I will be able to clear an entire bookshelf to allow for more manifestations of my own creations in this physical world as I move away from a sole dependence on the ideas of others towards a trust in the power and authenticity of my own.