I get like this sometimes, and when I do, I go to the bookstore.
I left the store a couple of hours later, empty handed.
As I pulled in the driveway, I decided to check the mail. Sitting innocently in my mailbox was a padded mailer, addressed to me, with an unfamiliar return address.
I went inside, ripped open the package, and a book fell out. It took me a moment to remember an email exchange I had earlier in the week with a woman who read my post about God and spirituality, and contacted me to say she was sending me a copy of her book, which she thought I would enjoy.
The title grabbed me instantly: Let Go, Let Miracles Happen; The Art of Spiritual Surrender, by Kathy Cordova. I knew immediately that this was the book I had been looking for, just waiting for me in my mailbox.
I finished the book in two days.
It was exactly - and I mean exactly - what I needed to read. Kathy writes beautifully about her own experience with spiritual surrender, and shares stories from dozens of others whose lives have been transformed by the power of letting go.
I've been feeling a vague sense of something missing lately, and I haven't been able to put my finger on what. As I read her book, I knew what has been bothering me: I haven't surrendered to something important in my life: writing.
Earlier this year, I was all fired up about writing a book, a memoir. I tackled writing it the way I approach so much in my life: full of determination and an exacting desire to get it done. I stayed up late into the night, clacking away at my keyboard. This went on for a few exhausting months, then the doubts started to creep in: What are you thinking? YOU can't write a book! The world doesn't need another addiction story. What if you spend all this time writing it, and nobody will publish it? Even if it's published, what if you don't sell any? Who do you think you ARE?
Eventually, the voices wore me down. Without consciously realizing it, I stopped writing.
In her book, Kathy Cordova writes about following your intuition, learning how to ignore the babbling ego:
The ego tells us that it's only looking out for our best interests, and that can be a tempting argument. The world has trained us to listen to our egos at the expense of our intuition, so it seems like we're doing the sensible thing when we let our ego be our guide.This last sentence hit me like a punch in the gut. My ego, which I do indeed think is looking out for my best interests, whispers to me that it's better to stay safe, to stick with the familiar, rather than to stick my neck out and risk injury, insecurity or rejection.
So how do you know if you're listening to your ego or your intuition? The key question is:
Is the message one of love or fear?
She goes on to write:
But what if we believe we hear our intuition, and we're too scared to follow it? We must ask ourselves, "What is the overriding factor: fear or love?"I have thought about this a lot over the past week. Deciding whether or not to write a book isn't one of life's hard choices, not when compared to making decisions about love, work or family. But it has been tugging away at my periphery for a long time now, and I want to get to the bottom of it. I realized, reading Kathy's words, that I'm afraid, and it's my ego's fault.
Are we hesitant to make a change because we love the situation we're in now? Or are we just scared of the unknown?
It's very difficult for me to write without thinking about the endgame, especially when the subject matter is intensely personal. I couldn't get my mind around the concept of success. What makes a successful book? Profits? Sales? Rave reviews? Fans? My ego, childishly jumping up and down, answers Yes! Yes! Yes! to all of these. So it's no head scratcher that when I'm listening to my ego all I can think about is the ways that I could fail following these criterion.
But my heart speaks differently. My heart tells me that writing is healing, that it doesn't matter if I even publish a book, that getting my story on paper is cathartic, cleansing. It tells me to surrender to the process, and just write, dammit.
Is the message one of love or fear?
I'm giving my ego one giant time-out, and letting my heart take the wheel for a while.