Walking In This World – Flora and Fauna or, Snow, Ice, and Yuck


Julia Cameron talks about a lovely idea in her book, The Artist’s Way, about “flora and fauna reports” that she would get as letters from her grandmother.  They were remarkable for two reasons: first, they came so frequently and for such a long duration; second, because they were so in-the-moment as to be Zen koans.

Today, I needed that idea.  The alarm went off at 0500 and I did not want to get out of bed.  For one thing, it was, well, 0500.  Duh.  For another, the weather has turned nasty, which in an of itself isn’t a surprise because it’s Winter.  In Chicago.  For another thing, I didn’t get up early yesterday because I needed the sleep.  My body’s probably fighting off the cold that my coworker brought to the office.  But really, it’s because getting up takes escape velocity.

I’ve said it before:  big goals don’t work.  We set them and then get stuck trying to be perfect, trip, fall, and stay down.  This only makes us feel worse about ourselves and our big goal – which, after all, was meant to make us feel better about ourselves, not worse.  This time of year, I see a lot of setting of resolutions, goals big and small, and I feel the competitive push to join in the dash toward personal betterment.

But this I’ve learned:  novels aren’t written overnight.  Morning pages keep me sane.  And now, I’m endeavoring to make “going to the gym” as regular as morning pages are – which means, daily.  Just go.  Show up at the page.  Show up at the gym.  Don’t have expectations about outcome.  Focus on the journey.  Turn off the inflow if the inflow doesn’t help you get onto the page, to the gym, or whatever your target is.  Be a friend of your future self.  Stephen Covey said, “Exercise integrity in the moment of choice.”  So, for today, I got up at 0500.  I went to the gym.  I will write my morning pages.

For today’s Walking In This World, I leave you with my favorite Zen Koan:

Chao Chu fell down in the snow and yelled, “Help me up!  Help me up!

A Zen monk came and laid down beside him.

Chao Chu got up and went away.

Walking In This World

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
©2015 A. Catherine Noon 

I love the title of Julia Cameron’s second book in her acclaimed Artist’s Way trilogy, Walking In This World.  

When I first did the material in the book, I mis-read the title as Walking In The World, a telling distinction.  I don’t easily inhabit my body or this plane, having evolved a very deep intellectual capacity as a way of avoiding abuse when I was a child.  I felt that my misunderstanding of the title signaled this separation – that, to me, the world is not concrete and one but ethereal and infinite.  While it makes me an effective writer, because I have a well-developed imagination, it’s crap for helping me do stuff like, oh, laundry and balancing my checkbook.
As I take an opportunity to look back on the week and reflect, this week of walking in this world has been filled with a lot of abundance and good things.  Rachel and I finished Sealed by Magic and sent it off to our editor for consideration; we finished the first and second rounds of edits on Emerald Keep; we made a deal for the third book of the Chicagoland Shifters which will come out this summer; and we started work on the keepsakes we will feature in the blog book tour for Emerald Keep.
It’s becoming a normal experience for me to have more difficulty the more positive things occur.  I’m much better in times of crisis, because they are so familiar to me.  I’m told this is a function of PTSD and of abuse survivors, because we become so accustomed to the chaos and unpleasantness that we don’t know what to do when it’s subsided.  So my goal is to become so good at enjoying when things are going well that I make that a habit, instead.  Sounds much more positive to me, doesn’t it to you?
I will say this to those of you who have suffered abuse at others’ hands: there is hope.  Get help, be gentle, and write.  Trust your own memories and not those you are told to have.  You can find your own voice, and you can heal.  It will take time and it will be challenging.  But you can do it.
Write on!