I have been watching my peony stalks raise their red heads out of the warming early spring earth. They can't help it, that reaching for sun, any more than my bluebirds can help their nesting, the moon can help its phases, the dog help his barking when he hears a leaf drop. It is what they do.
At our retreat two weekends ago, we were asked to create a "takeaway" filled with quotes and images that captured our time, to take away with us and keep handy, to use for inspiration. Two of my cards speak to a similar thing: trust what you are led to do — and its flip side: what do I know is mine to do?
Today, I was reading a very cool blog, and came across a quote by poet David Whyte: “We are the only species on earth capable of preventing our own flowering.”
I wrote to my friend today who created our takeaway craft — and who has just begun in the past two weeks to CREATE art, something she can't help, but has somehow kept herself from doing for a lot of years.
The quote: How beautifully said and exactly right, I wrote to her. “Sounds better than 'we are our own worst enemies,' ” (which I tend to say a LOT.)
I look out at my peony stalks, now already close to 10 inches tall, find the nest already constructed in the bluebird box, and know what's coming. They can’t help the doing because they know nothing else.
The blogger said: imagine the energy it would take for a flower to try to keep itself from doing what it was created to do.
Yes, imagine. That's a whole lot of energy, and I have sometimes felt spent out just fighting myself from the same thing.
Imagine. That my Alexander Fleming peony (I think that's what she is), which always blooms much earlier than any others in my yard, imagine if she fought with herself each day she was growing into something incredibly beautiful, saying: no! I can't help it, but I can't. I shouldn't brag. Or throw my scent around. And besides, I'm just not pretty enough and my stems are going to break under the weight of all that flowering and a late frost will probably get my blooms anyway, so I should just stop where I am and be done with it. That kind of thing. Y
ou've probably never thought those things yourself, but she has. And then all the other peonies will stand around laughing and blooming, saying why in the world won't she do what she is meant to do? It would be so much easier on her, on us. Us! And just think of how much happier the bees would be if she would just be herself.
How hard that is, sometimes. But what if we all looked at our creative souls and said: I love what I am created to do and be and I can’t help it!... instead of: I'm sorry, but.. I can’t help it, I just don't have it in me — when we fail to create as we should? What if?
That is how I feel about writing sometimes, that I can’t help how the words tumble out no more than I can help my need to write — and when I don’t try to self-edit, they end up being pretty good words at that. Sometimes. But more often I say the opposite: I would love to, but I can't help it that this or that gets in the way of my writing at all, or writing what I really want to.
When I was in college, my friends and I loved a singer called Janice, flocking to see her whenever she was in town. One of the songs she sang had these lyrics: Oh, I can't help it, I just wake up smiling...
That's what I need to do. Wake up smiling, saying oh, I can't help it, I wake up smiling, just thinking of what I was meant to do. Can't help but trust the fact that I have been created to blossom — somewhere, in some way — if I would just look up at the warmth of the sun and say: help me grow.