I love how even the shortest vacation from my every day life gives me an opportunity to reflect. I’m just home from a long weekend away camping with my family and many friends. And as often happens to me—when I have time away and come back I have this great sensation of space. It feels like the space between breaths. Like a breath has just been taken, and another one is yet to come, and yet there is a pause. I recognize that I am in the middle of a giant silence that allows me to reflect and choose again the direction yet to come.
Times like this, like the one I am sitting in and writing to you from now, often some version of this question arises for me: “What’s it all for?” That, and sometimes even more importantly, “Is what I have been doing what I would like to continue to do?”
It feels vital to me to ask that question—especially in these clean slate moments—when the next chapter is yet to be written. In my mind I see a hand held chalkboard, on it are the stories of my life– how I fill my days, what I do with my time. As each sentence is complete it disappears to make room for the next one to appear. Some of the story is uncontrolled by me—my children’s moods, a friend’s car breaking down and the divergent tangent that took my day on– so many things really. And some of it is written in my hand. Or rather what feels like the invisible hand of my soul who determines the story by the actions that I do and can choose to take.
These are the things I’m thinking of as I sit in my studio at my desk. As I am contemplating all of this—and asking what I frequently ask when I sense a pause (or come back from vacation as the case often is), “Am I interested in picking up where I left off?” I am looking around my studio. The bookshelves that sit in my office seem to me a record of important things—a record of the things that have brought me meaning in my life—or the things that I consider important or enjoyable. I can see the different sections of these shelves and I am thinking about this and their meaning and how my journey can in part be told (at least by me) by looking at these shelves. The important ones are there. As I am contemplating the space between the breaths and what the next sentence shall be, my mind lands on a book entitled, “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg.
As I see it several things happen to me. One, in a flash, in my mind’s eye I am riding in the back of a cab looking out the window in Dakar, Senegal. I am in the Peace Corps there. The year is around 1998. I am visiting the capital city to do a few errands and help write the Peace Corps Volunteer Newsletter. We are passing a corner of the street where the book venders are. In this spot there are literally stacks and stacks and stacks of books— hundreds—perhaps thousands. They are stacked one on top of each other—likely in no particular order. As I am riding by I glance out of the window and from across the street and on the other side of the stacks a gust of wind ruffles one book, pushing the paperback cover up into my view for a moment. The book is “Writing Down the Bones.” The cab turns the corner, the books recede from view, and I think to myself, “Did I just see THAT book? Did that just happen?” I am living in a country whose two official languages are French and Wolof. The only English I speak here EVER is among my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. Among thousands of books, at least to my memory, only one book title was wind-swept: An English book on writing. I know the book. I’ve seen it before. Someone I knew– I think my mom– had it for a class she took when I was in college.
The moment stands out to me. I remember it. Months later, on another trip to Dakar I think of it again—and this time I get in a cab and direct him to the booksellers’ corner. When I get out the book is waiting for me—no longer on the top of the pile—but in the same general area I remember seeing it the first time many months prior.
Of course I purchase it and I carry it with me like a bible through many countries afterward. I don’t actually read much of it—I read little bits occasionally— but owning it reminds me of something important to me. It feels like a message from my soul—a reminder—that even though I don’t know exactly how or why—this thing, writing, is essential to my being.
Secondly, I’m still in my studio—sitting at my desk after a vacation contemplating my next sentences (in the form of actions) and it all comes together for me. The moment here and now comes back alive and I return again to the choice that I continue to make over and over because it holds such meaning for me. It’s about the writing. My life is about the writing. It’s about the readings too and the helping as many women as possible learn to trust their own instincts and inner knowing– but the underlying fabric of who and why I am here is about the words that I put on the page. It’s the unifying feature that brings it all together. The words have always been with me. When I was younger it was letters and poetry that held them. Now it is blog posts and books. It’s the piece that looks as though it will continue to be the weft long beyond my service as a seer (which is not ending any time soon either!).
This book is a signpost for me. It does what signs sometimes do – help you remember. Just having this book with me has given me the prompt I needed many a time: write. Write! It brings you GREAT joy. And it is also why you are here.
Some day– though not any time soon– I may close up shop at my Intuition University and Empath Intuition University. I may feel as though my service is complete in helping others get deeply in touch with their own inner knowing, and having the unshakable knowledge that that, more than anything else, is going to lead them precisely where they need to go.
In the mean time, I remain utterly grateful for this particular signal in the form of a book. In my mind’s eye it is still ruffled by the wind and held by magic– even as it sits on my shelf. A reminder. From time to time an answer even– to the question, “What is it all for?” For me, it’s for writing down the bones.