This morning I watched a small bird strip bark off a cedar pole for its nest and was, once again, reminded of Wendell Berry’s poem, Peace of Wild Things. Here are his words:
Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I hope you are enjoying the return of the sun and longer days. And, I hope you take the time to enjoy the peace found in nature.
Have you ever had a week where your memories completely overwhelmed you? One of those weeks where you functioned on autopilot, only doing those things you needed to do since your brain is occupied elsewhere?
I did, recently. I’d been working on some issues from my past that seemed to be affecting my future, and I got stuck. For me being stuck means my creativity is affected, and I become hard on myself. My inner critic appears to go into hyperdrive, and I struggle to break free.
During this struggle to break free, I find myself looking for ways to help alleviate the emotional pain and discover the motivation to work again. It’s not easy to ensure that the memories no longer have power but that is the goal.
Some things that have worked are:
1. Don’t fight the memories. If the memories appear to be taking over, let them – if only for a few minutes. They won’t last, and fighting seems to give them more power. Memories with power are the last thing you want.
2. Write them out. Journaling is a good way to release all of the emotion that is attached to memories. Sometimes the very act of writing can change your brain to help you heal.
3. Find a place of non-judgement. Memories are something in our past that can have an effect on the future. There is nothing we can do to change them. Judgment, i.e. good vs. bad, can give power to memories and will affect your emotions. Accept the memory just as it is, and you can get past it.
4. Find a trusted person to share the memory. Finding that person is more difficult than it would seem because not every person is capable of handling the more difficult memories. And, not every person is someone to be trusted. At times, seeking a therapist may be the best option, and they have the training to help you process your past.
5. If you are a creative, set a goal and stick to it. During the middle of stuckness, setting a goal of a 15-minute free write or 500 words each day, regardless of the content will help keep your creative juices flowing. Sticking with the habit in spite of where your emotional life will help keep your inner critics at bay.
Freeing ourselves from old, painful memories is possible, though most likely difficult. A lot of things can get in the way of your creative life, and just life in general, but you can overcome to find healing. It takes time and patience, and often a bit of help.
Healing is just another step in finding your intentional life.
For other tips on living an intentional life, check out the rest of my posts.
Though I am a day late with my post, I wanted to share this little poem that has the best advice I’ve ever seen:
by John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
This poem is in the public domain.
Today, would have been my brother’s 52nd birthday and the message of this poem is exactly what I needed to hear. I hope you find some encouragement in the words.