Just Right

by Analyn Revilla

I’ve run out of excuses to write something for this week’s blog.  I’ve made too many trips to the kitchen from my writing chair.  I’ve cleaned out my laundry basket and folded everything.  I’ve done all the necessary correspondences and then some.  Animals have been taken care of.  What else? What else?  Oh.  I’ve got to practice guitar.  High E string breaks, so now I have to change the strings.  While I’m at it, I’ll clean the guitar – oiling the neck, brushing the spaces between the frets, wiping the pegs clean.  All set, but now I have to practice yoga.  I have a class to teach.  I need coffee.  Walk the dog first.  I’m practicing everything else except writing.

I started agonizing about writing since that alert email flashed in my inbox last Friday.  Subject line:  Start of Blog Week.  I’m paralyzed with performance anxiety that strikes at my heart.  It’s ironic to me, because being a yoga teacher, I guide class participants to let go, use awareness and breath to get through the asanas.  I’ve already held my breath in my chest during the past 186 words.  

I’ve “figured it out”.  My mind is controlling the outcome even before I’ve started.  Does any of this resonate with anyone out there?  Echo – echo – echo…

Hey it works!  I did use my awareness and breath and the breath is flowing again, and I know it’s going to be ok.  I can write.  One of the metaphors I use in my yoga classes is Goldilocks.  It has to be just right:  Not too hard, not too soft.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Not too big, not too small.  Ok cool.  This gives me permission to just be myself:  Just right.  Just write.

Like other art forms, writing is a practice.  For me, it is the hardest effort compared to meditation, yoga and guitar. There are other practices not always labeled as “artistic”, such as medical and legal practices (though to me any practice is an art form).  A practice means showing up and being present. 

During the first week of  acting classes, the coach asked, what is difference between an amateur and a professional? From the American Heritage Dictionary:

Thirty years ago I lived in Salem, Oregon, working as an Information Technology professional.  I left the bubble of Vancouver, BC and dove deep into a new environment in every sense of the word.  The consulting company provided for a 30 day use of a car and free accommodation.  Coming close to the end of this grace period, I found two cars to choose from, one was a practical Toyota Tercel and a medium luxury Saab (both second hand).  The owner of the Tercel had a dog.  The car was flea ridden to match the roller painted teal blue.  The SAAB was a convertible.  Imagine.  I asked a friend which car I should choose, though I already knew in my heart of hearts which one I would buy.  My friend’s response was “There’s not even a choice.  You’re a professional now.”

Those words still ring in my ears now and then when coming to choices of “fun” versus “serious”.  Should I get a fun car or a serious car?  Sure, a convertible is fun, but fun to me was having cash in my pocket to explore and I didn’t need a convertible to do that.  There were not any regrets with the Toyota.  I drove it everywhere, even trips to Vancouver, BC and back to Salem with the gas pedal to the metal, especially during the uphill stretches through the Cascade mountains.  There was the regularly planned stop at Olympia, Washington to cool down the engine.  One morning, close to the end of my gig, I woke up and found the car crumpled, a victim of a hit and run.  The insurance company paid me $100 less than what I paid for the car.

The Bhagavad Gita, noted as the primary source of yogic philosophy by B.K.S. Iyengar, compares the body to a chariot, the sense to the horses and the mind to the reins.  “The intellect is the charioteer and the soul is the master of the chariot.”

Going back to the 90’s when I lived in Salem, I also discovered “Alice In Chains” (AIC).  The album, “Jar of Flies” was my constant companion.  I’ve been listening to AIC again, and unearthed my beginner’s mind approach to daily living.  I’m listing to the album “Dirt”, an “intense” record as described by Jerry Cantrell (lead guitar, composer and vocals for AIC).

“Dirt” – Wikipedia – Retrospectively, the album has continued to receive acclaim, with Rolling Stone placing the album at No. 26 on its list of the “100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time”.[11] Dirt was included in the 2005 book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

There’s a freshness and enthusiasm to see how the day will unfold with my daily practice of yoga, meditation, guitar, reading and writing.  I definitely could strengthen my writing practice, which I said earlier is the hardest of them all.  Writing just demands all of me (flesh, blood, and bones and all the icky gooey stuff when you cut yourself open).  Plus it’s slow and gives me time to second guess my second guesses.  There’s always the opportunity to nullify the output (backspace, delete).

Writing is another form of self-expression.  The other practices (a.k.a  “distractions”) of yoga, guitar and house chores that take time away from writing is energy spent noodling in my head and heart, while keeping my hands busy.  These expressions also inform my writing.  I am able to give myself permission to relax in recognizing that this is my process to get me to the blank page to start pouring it all out:  my doubts, vulnerabilities, found strength in my weaknesses, and allowing and accepting it all.  Everyday is an opportunity for beginner’s mind which is the joy of being an amateur who practices their art for the joy of it.  The seriousness of maintaining a household for survival needs requires a healthy balance of joy through creation in music, writing and yoga & meditation.  Also, I’ve accepted that self-expression is not selfish. How can art be born without soulful expression in form?

Dirt. Unearthed. Beginner’s Mind.

Everything is just right.

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