“Until the lion learns to write every story will glorify the hunter.” African Proverb
Mr Criticism and Mr Anxiety two thickset bullies catch up with me as I drive toward the jagged Rocky Mountains. After facilitating a two day Conflict Resolution workshop for fifteen people for the Calgary Board of Education, I am content. I enjoyed young Devon 18 from Calgary and Kumar from India who ran his own business, spent many years in Japan and spoke several languages. He brought in a box of Robins donuts while another participant brought coffee. A first in my experience.
I watch the flaming sunset illumine the ridges, my hands on the steering wheel, my foot soft on the accelerator as a wave of exhaustion spreads across my eyes, weighs on my shoulders and abdomen. My thoughts churn. Anxiety is in the backseat while Criticism sits bolt upright, towering over me in the passenger seat. I jump when he jabs his spiky fingers into my right shoulder blade.
I know these two fellows well. They have been acquaintances of mine for as long as I can remember. The more I chase them away with pitchforks and hand grenades the more they pounce on me when I let my defences down. “How did you terrorists sneak into my car?” I ask.
With a sneer, criticism the smart Alex replies, “What’s the matter with you? I thought you’d be pleased to have company on the way home. We’ll keep you awake.”
“I am not happy. The last thing I need is your company.” I replied.
“Don’t you know you’re mother gave me the job of accompanying you through your life?” anxiety chimes in.
As I pass fields with golden hay bales, they frisk me and suck out my joy. Criticism carries on his relentless tirade, “Why did you tell that dumb story about your eleven month old daughter jumping out of her crib. That has nothing to do with conflict in the workplace.” He drains me of any feelings of wellbeing.
Anxiety chirps in, “How much money did you make? You spent over a week preparing for the two day workshop.”
“You spend all your time writing and creating workshops because you love it. Wilma how many times have I told you, you need a real job, one that pays? You’ll end up a bag lady with a shopping trolley, roaming Calgary’s frozen street ,” criticism continues.
Shivering I cower in my seat. Then something snaps. “Enough,” I yell. “How dare you berate me like that? You two have sucked enough of my life energy. It’s time for you to walk.” I pull over onto the shoulder, open the door and turf them onto the frozen verge.
“After all we have done to help you, how can you be so mean to us?” they whined.
I slammed the door and began to sing, “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls.” Lightness spread like a wave across my body. I nod my head to the music.
Then I imagined I heard couple of voices, melodic tones as if from angels. I looked around. There to my astonishment beaming at me, were two young women with olive skin, and dark brown eyes. “Where did you come from?” I asked.
“We have been here all the time. I am Curiosity and this is my dear friend Encouragement. Those two bullies drowned out our soft voices. We love to accompany you on your adventures,” Ms. Curiosity replied.
“We hang out in your writing room and whisper words of encouragement. We are totally present when you lose track of time and spend hours in preparation fascinated by presenting your material in a more meaningful way.” Ms Encouragement added.
And the three of us sang all the way to Canmore.
It’s a New Year. How do you handle new beginnings? New starts have been one of my life themes. Born in Scotland, I moved to India, Oman, New Zealand and Australia and settled in Canada.
Some of these moves pulsed with irrepressible life, and enticed me forward. Some were sucker holes well known to those of us who climb mountains - ominous storm clouds surround patches azure sky that lure the mountaineer upwards.
Many years ago I started out with my destination vivid in my mind’s eye. I’ll write a book, revise my first draft and soon I’ll be an author. Easy stuff, I thought. After all I had published several articles. So focused on the azure sky and the alluring taste of success my eyes were oblivious to the gathering tempest. My mother-in-law, my supportive friend for thirty-six years passed away from a sudden heart attack. This tragic loss deflected me from the book path to the poetry path.
On the poetry path many dragons threatened to devour my writing and my very being. Their voracious nightly attacks flooded my system with adrenaline. A fingerless male emerged from my depth and threatened to strangle me. How could my sensitive countenance hold such destructive self-doubting demons? My writing ground to a halt.
Oh so slowly, I remembered that as on the mountain I needed the support of others. With help I delved into my psyche, dialogued with my soul destroying demons, released my expectations and focused on writing in the moment. Inhale word, exhale word. In time the sucker hole yielded its reward. I returned from my depths with the elixir of self-knowledge, self-love and a poetry book “Entangled Enchantments” and most recently my memoir “Circling the Edge – listening to the whispers of the wild soul.”