On, In, and Around Mondays: Willing to Begin
"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. :)
This post is also shared with Laura Boggess, for...