Traversing the bridge toward my new future, the three selves have been battling it out.
Diana the Diva, compelling as she is, had me convinced that this change upon which I’m embarking is a splashy cross-country road trip. I already bought my annual National Parks Pass, a bargain at $88; and she’s got me cyber-stalking Rav4 AWD SUVs. She wants a red one, with a beige interior and a sun/moon roof. FWD will not do; I’m going to need true off-road capability where she’s leading me!
Wendy the Worrior was not pleased with this westward movement, way too risky. Hands on hips, head shaking, tongue clucking, feet planted firmly, her inertia has completely roadblocked me. She's kept me in doubt and indecision over my house rental, the car trade-in, even the stupid paint colors for the living room walls. I was not getting anywhere fast.
In the all-out cat-fight, Molly the Muse could not even be heard.
Then, out of nowhere, one morning, while I’m doing dishes, worries swirling in my head, birds singing out my window, but I cannot begin to enjoy spring, I notice the meek voice whisper in my ear: “What about me?”
In all the transition busy-ness and confusion, my writing had halted. The manuscript I’d been toiling over for years, so close to completion, sat in a virtual shoebox gathering dust.
The agents to whom I’d reached out were awaiting my follow-up.
My essay submissions had halted. At least I made time to blog!
I shut the water off and gazed across my kitchen into space, imagining myself pulling away from Park Road in my new, pre-owned SUV packed to the brim, a loosey-goosey itinerary programed into the GPS, heading into the sunset, searching for the next motel, campground, park lodge, no vacancy, Covid-restricted, no solid place to land, no place to sit and write.
Chuckling nervously to myself,I recalled the frank words of my therapist at our last Zoom session: “Anne, you’re scaring the shit out of yourself.”
“What am I Doing?” My own voice screamed inside my head. “What do I really want?”
I’d started my vision board on a rainy Saturday, a great exercise to create clarity in a left-brained way; but I’d left it half finished.
I ran upstairs to my office to take a look: images ripped out of magazines and glued onto the poster board were of serene scenes, isolated abodes with decks and Adirondack chairs facing vistas of water and mountains.
These were clues.
A pink lotus flower bloomed out of the left side of the board with the word contemplate glued above it.
A woman stood with a tie-dyed sarong billowing in the wind, just her legs showing out of the bottom, and the back of a brimmed hat attached to the top – a hiker gazing across an open field toward the horizon with the message: Trails are merely suggestions.
A white question cut out of a gray circle and pasted in the lower middle panel inquired: What guides us?
I felt myself smile. I knew the answer. I’d been ignoring it.
The hawk told me: Simplicity and Freedom.
Molly the Muse told me: Peace and quiet and a desk where she can write. The change is inside her and she’s ready to write it out!
Of course, The change is inside! The messages had been blaring at me, but I wasn’t listening.
As Carlos Castaneda famously put it in The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge: “Things don’t change; you just change your way of looking.” Or maybe hearing.
I felt myself exhale, my shoulders relax. Suddenly the pressure to plan something big and complicated dissipated.
Over the next week, the heart palpitations subsided, the swirling chatter in my head quieted. Wendy the Worrier calmed too. We got down to work on an itinerary.
The muse doesn’t need much; she doesn’t need to travel far. But she did need a place to land, a container for her creativity, at least for the first few months, insisted my coach.
Yes, coaches need coaches, therapists, all kinds of help in this game of life change, someone outside all the subjective selves who sees things we cannot. I needed to stop scaring the shit out of myself.
Tapping into the intuitive powers of artist friend Tim (https://www.timmcloraine.com/), we cyber-stalked and liked, over days and weeks, artsy Airbnb getaways in the Northeast; then he helped me overcome Wendy's resistance and press BOOK on three serene and comfy spaces: an artist apartment on the Hudson in Rhinebeck, NY; a loft cabin in the lush Green Mountains of VT; a garden apartment in a bayside home in Pawtuxet, RI.
Looking at the map, I discovered I could draw a triangle connecting the three locales, each providing a different perspective, but each with a good desk and outdoor space to sit and contemplate.
I felt the excitement bubbling.
I’d pumped the imaginary brake on my Go-West plan. But I was sure to find ways in these closer-to-home places to entertain the daring Diana.
The sabbatical was ON!
“As long as you find someone to rent the house,” Wendy the Worrier groused. She could not let me bask in the glow of accomplishment for long. She was here to remind me that this was a self-funded sabbatical. While flitting around the country for a year, I had to cover my monthly living and lodging expenses while continuing to pay my home mortgage and upkeep.
Best not to ignore the sober reality, best to admit I was still in transition, still traversing the bridge from one ending to my new beginning.
But I could feel a tiny tailwind propelling me forward.
There was no turning back now.
(Those Airbnb bookings were non-refundable!)