During my time with Therapist Number 2 (Number 3 if you count my short stint with The Woman Who Only Wore Purple), I felt like I had some really big fish to fry – namely, I wanted to quit smoking cigarettes, leave my job and lose weight, three things that were unlikely to ever happen together.
I would lay on her leather couch with her Dachshund on my belly and bemoan my inability to become waiflike despite how meagerly I ate or how ferociously I exercised.
“We don’t exercise to be thin,” she told me one day, her long, reedy legs crossed at the knee in her massive leather shrink chair.
“No, we exercise to have a relationship with our body.”
That was one of those statements that, depending on my mood, could strike me as either totally asinine or absolutely profound. On that day, it was profound.
Everything I understood about exercise suddenly shifted. It no longer became a means to an end, but an end unto itself. I stopped caring about results. It stopped being about my self-esteem. I stopped doing things simply to suffer through them and made a commitment to stoke that relationship that she talked about in a good way, every day.
I just had a similar revelation at a writing workshop I attended last week.
Surrounded by a dozen women, writing from prompts, reading aloud, sharing reactions, reading some more, I began to remember why we write. As Natalie Goldberg says, “We write to study mind.”
Maybe she didn’t say exactly that, but that’s her general gist: writing helps us understand how the mind works. The writer’s job is mostly just to show up and write.
This is a perfect revelation for today, because today is our third birthday. I started this blog February 1, 2009 with this post. I wrote then, “I’m not entirely sure this is a good idea…” and in retrospect, I can say it was a very good idea. It did, in fact, keep me out of trouble. It landed me a bit of work. It keeps me connected to a lot of folks.
But mostly, it helps me understand how mind works. That delicate mystery machine that I delude myself into thinking I have control over. It is here that I learn what’s important to me, when I sit down to write one thing and come up with quite another. I’ve posted things that crack me up and that scare the shit out of me, and doing so has created that relationship that Therapist Number 2 was talking about: no ends, just flexing and stretching and trying to engage my heart.
Thanks for being here with me for our birthday. Sorry, no cake.