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dive

via Pinterest

A writer sitting before a blank page is like a swimmer poised on the edge of a diving board.

With any luck, there ensues the clicking of keys, and words start to tumble onto the screen. The diver leaps, maybe even jackknifes, and plunges into the surface of the pool water.

When I attempted to write a post on a particular topic last week, something unexpected happened: I tiptoed to the end of the diving board, jumped and ended up in a completely different trajectory.

If you write a lot, you’ll understand that writing authentically, creatively, is partly channeling. I promise I’m not trying to go all oogie-boogie on you. It’s just that sometimes some thing wants out, and you can either let the creature out or beat it back into submission. In the latter case, the risk is that all the colours of your writing may lose their lustre.

Writing, music, and art are born of various creative processes. When Tom Waits, the gifted songwriter, was interviewed, he told the interviewer that some songs need to be bullied into submission. When a song won’t give itself over so a studio session can be finished, Waits will march up and down, talking to the song, saying,  “The rest of the family is in the car! We’re all going on vacation! You coming along or not? You’ve got 10 minutes or else you’re getting left behind!”

Me, I don’t bully. I just sit in front of the computer. On a on a sunshine-y grace day, the words just come to me. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the enormously popular Eat, Pray, Love, says, “I know the difference between something I thought of and something I was given.”

Does this topic have anything at all to do with yoga? I think it does. In the beginning, yoga practice is halting. You’re painting by numbers. You’re following your teacher, a video, or a text to learn the basics – (or perhaps the YogaAnywhere home practice cards). This fledgling stage goes on a goodly amount of time, however long it takes. Interestingly though, this period of building foundations is accelerated in direct proportion to how much personal practice you do.

What happens then, with enough experience under your belt, you start to get more intuitive in your practice. It’s not stop and start anymore; you roll out your mat, maybe sit or lie for a few minutes, and then you’re on your way… on the diving board edge, ready to execute a pike or a tuck or a somersault, or some combination of all of them. Or, you might end up continuing to sit.

(BTW, for the second week in a row, I haven’t written the post I intended. It might have to be next time.)