“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write…. and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola
Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
“Perfect way to stop a woman.”
For me, this is not about the cleaning. It’s about the metaphor: all the things that keep me from doing what I say I most want to do. All the seemingly important tasks that clamor for my attention. All the distractions. More to the point: all the inhibitions and insecurities that crowd and clamor and consume.
I’m not naive, nor am I an idealist. There are things that need to be done. Responsibilities that beckon. Important work that is required. But for me, those tasks, burdens, and endless lists tend to become excuses, delays, even weirdly-grateful-for hindrances that keep me from the better part.
There’s an old, old story told of two sisters. One day a renowned Teacher graced their home. One of the sisters sat contentedly at his feet while the other scurried about in the kitchen – managing the critical details of hospitality. Eventually the sister in the kitchen complained. “Don’t you care that she has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” The Teacher said to her: “Dear woman, you are worried about many things. Your sister has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
A few examples of my own stuck-in-the-kitchen reality?
- I must be losing subscribers because they don’t quite understand me. I should re-tool my “About” page.
- My social media strategy needs attention, time, and work. Surely, that will help me turn the corner.
- I need to create some kind of passive revenue stream; something that would be a fail-safe income generator so I can focus on my real writing.
- Maybe I should craft this blog post in a way that allows everyone to resonate instead of just some. Yes, that seems wise.
This is only the tip of my iceberg. Each of these – and so many more – keep me “in the kitchen” and busy with details that matter on some level, to be sure, but that deflect me from my true desire, true calling, the better part. I grouse about the way things seem to be for everyone else. And I justify lack of movement, avoidance of risk, aversion to exposure, uncertainty, insecurity, and fear. How convenient. How neat and tidy.
The better part. What is that exactly?
- Doing the hard(er) work of putting myself out there, others’ opinions (and my own self-critic’s) silenced.
- Trusting that I actually know.
- Not giving one more thought to “perfect clients” or platform or market share or SEO-optimization.
- Letting people in, no matter how messy my kitchen, my mind, my heart, my world.
- Writing, saying, being in ways that might probably go against the grain, but that feel so true, so right, so real, so me.
The better part, the better choice, the only choice, really, is to allow for and invite the messiness, the risk, the passion, the unbridled creativity, the unrestrained voice, the rampant imperfection. The better part is to listen to wisdom within and without. To stop fussing and laboring and yes, cleaning. To come out of the kitchen and sit, stand, and stay in places of meaning and beauty.
The better part is to not be stopped at all, ever, by anything.
May it be so.
[Deep appreciation to Martha and her story for connecting me to my own. Just one of the ancient, sacred narratives I so need
and so love.]