Good morning — it’s still morning, right? Outside the day is fully open, and I’m just getting into the blog at nearly 10. The notebook called to me during the dark time this morning, so I lit my tall candles and fell forward onto the page, recollecting what I could of my dreams, and my intentions for this day, this week, these unfurling next few months.
Just went into my thesaurus to look up synonyms for the word unfurl, which has become one of my standard-bearers (alongside thick and generous and grateful and slick and lit — the words that I find myself reaching for over and over, almost without thought, words that carry an extra load, words I am a bit obsessed with, words I ask to do more than their share), and I found that the thesaurus that comes standard on the Mac had no synonyms for ‘unfurl’ available. So I tried the dictionary, and my little Mac came back with this:
make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state, esp. in order to be open to the wind
Mmmhmm. Right, yes. That’s exactly how I feel right now: unfolded, exposed, stretched out and vulnerable, buffeted; a thing to be of use, to catch the wind, to ride what’s already available and freely given. Oh.
I will keep this short today, because I need to move into other work. This is what it looks like to be attentive to my rhythms, to know what work I do best when and to allow myself to do that work at those times.
I feel myself stretched into a piece of canvas, let me be that simple and of use, that unnoticed and that necessary the poet said. Let me be clear about my task, let me be open all the way to the wind. When the sail is bunched or wet or otherwise entangled, it can’t be of its best use, can it? I want to be that open. These are frightening days ahead of me. The inside selves want to curl up, the want to find our safe places, they want to read the day through tucked into a corner of the couch with the puppy next to us and some safety and assurance waiting for us at a regular job where someone else is responsible for all the paperwork. Now I am that responsible someone else.
Keep the fingers moving. The pages, the anthologies, the publications live over my head. the books I have published and yet to publish — there’s space waiting for them. It’s my job to open all the way up, to commit to this path, to gather all my resources.
She says to me, you have everything you need.
Become the sail of your own life, of this particular dream. Trust the instincts that teach you where to tie your knots and where to hoist. Trust the inside voices that have led you thus far.
I am learning about opening up all the way, which means taking care of this body this skin this self. It means getting up from the chair, it means taking bite-sized pieces of work, it means doing one piece every day — no more marathons. Daily marathons are not sustainable — the truth is that the work can’t be done in a binge. Open up. Open into the anxiety and the panic and the fear — I could just send one more email, one more pitch, one more post, but instead it’s time to shut down the computer, turn away from the screen, take the body out into the sun, set the voice in conversation with a friend, let the heart have its wandering about the earth. This is the terrifying part, and how I make this path a long-term sail: I commit to everyday steps and everyday stops.
The sail opens up and the sail collapses. Unfurling is the work of the valves, the vents and apertures and gills. Unfurling is an exercise, a muscle. We don’t have to be open all the time. We practice expansiveness so that when we need it those muscles are elastic, ready.
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What is furled in you that wants to uncurl itself and bear its belly to the wind? What is ready to be so exhaled, so stretched? What part is ready to run, ready to unleash itself, wanting full rein? It could be a part of your physical body (or your character’s), it could be a dream, an idea. Set a timer (I used this one today — it’s loud when it goes off!) and give this part of you or your character ten minutes to fly free. You don’t have to run at full-speed forever — this is a sprint. Try not to let the pen or fingers stop until you’ve reached the end of those ten minutes — follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.
Thank you for the parts of yourself you have sustained even when no one else did, the parts you believed in when others belittled them — thank you for your persistent willingness and desire to unfurl, to open, to be vulnerable and exposed in this lifetime. We survived for this. Thank you for your words.