Monday, June 25, 2012

On, In, and Around Mondays: Willing to Begin

Antique Key

"It is this willingness to once more be a beginner that distinguishes a creative career," says Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way.

Maybe we think this statement is confined to our art. A writer becomes a beginner by trying a different form or a painter becomes a beginner by trying a new media.

I'm not so sure this confinement holds.

I say this because of the lawn mower.

It was a beautiful day yesterday. Perfect for yard work. And I determined to mow. But when I started the machine, it coughed out white smoke and a worrisome burning smell.

I shut off the mower and stood there. Maybe if I stood there long enough, it would fix itself? I turned the mower back on. More smoke. More terrible burning smell.

I shut off the mower and stood there. Well? Was I really going to give up my whole vision for the afternoon just because I know nothing about lawn mower care?

I was. I was going to give it up.

But then something inside me wouldn't let go. As silly as it might sound, I wanted this. I wanted the afternoon I'd pictured. Lawn mowing and all.

An image of my grandmother played across my mind. Grandma cared for ten acres single-handedly. She did this far into her grandmotherly years. I pictured her on her riding mower down by the lake. She must have had to fix a few machines in her time. She must have.

"Okay, grandma," I almost said aloud. "If you could do it, why can't I?"

So I became a beginner. I Googled "oil change Craftsman 6.0." I watched a video that proved to be the wrong method. I came back into the house and Googled it again. Now I was going to have to turn the mower over and let it drip oil into an oil pan. A Thanksgiving stuffing pan would have to do.

Maybe it was just an oil change, this moment. Maybe it had nothing to do with my art, my writing. Or maybe it was an important moment I'll look back on, because I took a question away from the experience...

"Who told you you couldn't do this?"

The past, yes. Training in helpless-womanhood, yes. But really? In the end, who told me I couldn't do this? Nobody but me. So, as it turns out, it was me who had to decide to stop standing there and start unscrewing the oil cap.

And that is a principle that goes across life right into the heart of my art.

On, In and Around Mondays (which partly means you can post any day and still add a link) is an invitation to write from where you are. Tell us what is on, in, around (over, under, near, by...) you. Feel free to write any which way... compose a tight poem or just ramble for a few paragraphs. But we should feel a sense of place. Would you like to try? Write something 'in place' and add your link below.

If you could kindly link back here when you post, it will create a central meeting place. :)

On In Around button

This post is also shared with Laura Boggess, for...

ts book club no border


Anonymous kendal said...

needed this hopeful message today....

10:30 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Oh, I do love a woman who can change her own oil.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Sylvia R said...

Oh, yes, this "is a principle that goes across life right into the heart of... art" --- and many things!
Funny how we can fall into that "female helplessness" without reason, usually over time. Good for you, and thanks for this parable!

10:54 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Oh yes, how many times are we our own worst enemy? Yet, the Word says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!" Word over mindset every time is my prayer...only by the grace of God.

11:24 AM  
Blogger David Rupert said...

LL, I didnt know you started writing fiction!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Laurie Collett said...

With God, all things are possible -- even changing oil! Thanks for the great post & for hosting the linkup.
God bless,

12:34 PM  
Blogger diana said...

So...did it work? LOVE that you tried to find a way. I would have hauled it to a repair shop. But then, we've never owned a power mower.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Connie@raise your eyes said...

Love how each day dawns with its own adventures and you drew strength from thinking of your grandmother.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Joe Pote said...


Good for you, trying something new!

Now I'm curious, though. Did the oil change do the trick, or did it turn out to be some other issue with the mower?

1:50 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

The new creation understands that you can't keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So she tries something new and different and grows! I've been gone a while, but I'm back! Good to see you again!

2:28 PM  
Anonymous kingfisher said...

So glad that you're "willing to begin" in so many areas of your life, even those you feel you know nothing about. I'm glad for you, that you were able to see beyond your frustration to the "might be possibles".

The Lord bless you today. Thank you for being you!

2:31 PM  
Blogger Sherrey said...

Re-creating yourself, aren't you? I love it -- not so much becoming a mechanic, but the desire to climb that proverbial mountain to the top and do it yourself! Great post.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

Love your grit and determination. I think I would have just waited and told myself "I can't". Great reminder that I just need to to TRY

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

One time my minivan got a flat. At the time, I only had three little girls, and I realized I wanted to model to them that they don't need to call for help; I want them to see their mom change a flat.

So I pulled out the manual and followed the step-by-step instructions and changed that flat tire. I drove on the spare to the closest gas station because the spare was low, filled it with air, then drove to Discount Tire and bought a new tire.

All by myself.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Nacole said...

ive been this woman--am this woman. im hard-headed. learned it from my mama and its in the DNA from my grandma. thanks for all the lessons you write out for us here, Laura, and for encouraging me to be brave. its helping.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Dolly@Soulstops said...

Impressed! Loved the picture of your grandmother zipping @ on her lawn mower :)

12:57 AM  
Blogger Megan Willome said...

Very convicting!

I've recently realized that one of the bad fruits of growing up around abuse and cancer is that when a thing doesn't work, I assume it's over forever. This includes something as simple as not being able to work a remote--I assume I'll never watch TV again.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Sandy Marsh said...

You make quite an intriguing point. I have definitely been thinking about that: what's to stop me in this season that I am in right now?

10:24 PM  

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