The Path With No Markers
Natalie Goldberg begins her book, Thunder and Lightening, with a warning.
Know that you will eventually have to leave everything behind; the writing will demand it of you. Bareboned you are on the path with no markers, only the skulls of those who never made it back … Now that you have been warned, let me also say this: if you want to know what you’re made of, if you want to stand on death’s dark face and leave behind the weary yellow coat of yourself, then just now – I hear it – the heavy wooden doors of the cloister of no return creaking open. Please enter.
Do I really have to be this brave to commit to a life as a writer – this naked, this scary, this breathtakingly dramatic? Do I have to give up everything?
I mean let’s get real. Surely I can keep saying yes to those little contracts that pay the bills and still stand on death’s dark face. Can’t I spend a few measly hours on Facebook and Twitter every day whilst also finding time to enter those big doors of the cloister of no return?
Okay maybe not, but how about this? What if I leave everything behind except my favourite TV show, my latest brilliant web idea and my daily soy vanilla lattes? And I don’t like the sound of that weary yellow coat so I’d be willing to give that up. Can I still head down the path with no markers, sort of bareboned?
I didn’t think so.
Natalie might be talking about writing, but her warning could just as easily apply to any great life change. If you are going to make that big dream happen – the one you’ve been harvesting for years – then it might be time to embrace wholeheartedly the commitment, the focus, the trust, the pace and the attention your dream needs and deserves.
I’ve been moving in new ways for a while now – taking small steps towards writing, exercising, working and decluttering. I’ve been pacing myself for change, learning how to be more creative than reactive, more resilient than inconsistent. My steps are more surefooted and deliberate. I can see more clearly what it is I want. I’m ready to walk this path bareboned and leave everything behind.
No, I’m not talking about leaving my husband and moving to Bali to study yoga at a nudist colony. I’m talking about narrowing life down, committing to a more focused path, leaving everything behind that I need to and grabbing hold of my potential. Why?
- Because narrowing life down guides me more directly towards my dream.
- Because committing to a more focused path helps me do a few things very well.
- Because leaving everything behind that no longer jibes with my dream clears the path.
- Because grabbing hold of my potential is what this big journey is all about.
I’m still fleshing out the details, rolling them around in my hands and tossing them in the air, but I’m ready to walk the path towards a healthful, creative and simplified writer’s life. My novel, my blog, my health and my work will become interwoven – each informing the other, threads of the same creative and momentum-soaked fabric. Every day, I will trim the loose ends and take small, emphatic steps — writing, walking, exercising and simplifying. I will walk bareboned towards who I am meant to be and I won’t look back.
Come with me. What have you got to lose? Everything – including that weary yellow coat.