Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Be in the Now

2016 started with a bang. The day after I landed back in Toronto from Beijing, I was in extreme pain. A Sunday, and I sat quietly on the sofa watching TV with my partner while the whole left side of my face throbbed. By suppertime, I couldn’t take the pain any longer. I went to the pharmacy at Shoppers Drug Mart, described my pain, and the pharmacist recommended an emergency dental clinic a little north of downtown. An hour later, a dental x-ray revealed an infection. The tooth couldn’t be saved, so out it came.

Oh … the … pain! The pain during the recovery period was just as intense, and at times worse, than before I had the tooth pulled. With pain that bad, it was difficult for me to focus, to write, to move along my creative projects. I wanted to start the New Year off focused on creating a better balance between my writing and other life demands, like my use of social media and my responsibilities at home. I felt sidelined because I wasn’t moving forward. I was close to finishing a read-through of a novel, was trying to decide between self-publishing and traditional publishing and wanted to do some research. I also had two other writing projects on the go. But everything came screeching to a halt. I panicked, couldn’t breathe.

I was, bon gré mal gré, looking to the future and where I hope to be and, consequently, stressing myself out about things that I needed to get done and chastising myself for not being to work through the pain. Then I realized I had to take a step back and be in the present moment, the now. I couldn’t write for long swaths of time, but I could, despite the pain, work in twenty-minute intervals. I could still be creative in the kitchen. If I couldn’t focus long enough to write, I could get out and explore the city, gather more fodder for my writing. I could rest. In that moment, all the stress and doubt fell away. I could breathe again.

Sometimes I forget that there are things beyond my control. Getting sick is one of them. I do my best to live a healthy and active lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean I’m never going to get sick. And should I become ill, I often see it as my body telling me to take time to rest. It’s a difficult thing for me to do. Rest, that is. Even when I’m sick, and can see people rushing about the city, I’m caught up in that rush. I want to keep going and going and going. Like the Energizer Bunny.

So today I remind myself that I am on a journey, and that I shouldn’t try to rush. I must savour each day, each moment along the way. Sometimes I forget, too, that a career in the arts doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes faith and courage. I have to believe in myself, and have faith that I can succeed and remain faithful to the cause. Yes, the first few weeks of 2016 may not have been as productive as I would have liked, but this one thing I know: I can simply begin, now, where I am, and the rest will follow.

I can, and will, follow the counsel of Corita Kent: “Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries.”

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