I was talking with a friend the other day. For the purposes of this story, let’s call her Mary Rose. MR told me about encountering a man on her morning walk: the classic skid row drunk. He was dirty, his hands were bloody from falling down, and he asked Mary Rose repeatedly if she wanted to meet Mr. Wonderful. MR was a bit concerned that he might pull Mr. Wonderful out of his pants, but then he clarified that he was Mr. Wonderful. She smiled politely and continued walking. In retrospect, she regretted not saying, “Yes, you are wonderful. Try to remember that.”
“Why do we forget who we are?” I asked her, not rhetorically in the least. She is wise in such matters.
She offered that we all have choruses of critical voices in our heads that often drown out our own knowledge of ourselves.
Right. Radio station KFKD.
This week I found myself immobilized by a dilemma that keeps cropping up for me: how to balance writing and editing. As a Libran, balance is important to me. But anyone who believes Librans are balanced misses the point about Librans and balance. Yes, we spend our lives seeking it, but 95% of the time, we are wildly unbalanced. Like yo-yos, we alternately fast and binge. We are social butterflies one week and recluses the next. We crave balance, but it’s an impossible state for us to maintain.
Being self-employed as an editor—and the one who is responsible to keep our financial boat afloat—I often let my writing slide in favour of paid editing work. When I’m engaged in an editing project, I frequently work all hours of the day and night. The activities that keep me balanced—writing, riding my stationary cycle, walking the dog, tending my garden, spending time with family and friends—are pushed to the margins. When the project ends I swing in the opposite direction, frantically trying to regain my equilibrium. But I’m not the kind of person who skates on the surface of anything. As I delve more deeply into my writing, I can feel myself start to fret about “wasting” time because I’m not earning money. And not only do I stress about whether to edit or write, I agonize over which of my two books should take precedence. If I choose to focus on the local history, I quickly get engulfed in researching it and precious little writing ever takes place. Before I know it, I’m immobilized by indecision. Depression is indecision’s twin sister, and to ward off her long tentacles, I play Scrabble on Facebook, binge on chocolate chip cookies and nightly marathons of Dexter or The Good Wife. Then a big editing job comes along and the cycle starts all over again. Rinse. Repeat.
Through it all, radio station KFKD clamours constantly: Do this. No, that. Why aren’t you working? There you go again, not writing. Can’t you do both? You’re a grownup now, this shouldn’t be an issue anymore.
All of that noise makes it hard sometimes to remember who I am.
So I turn to the tarot. For twenty years or more, I’ve been using the Motherpeace tarot to tap into my inner knowledge of myself. Lately I keep drawing the same few cards: 5 of Discs (there’s the worry about money); Lovers (an important choice I have to make); 3 of Swords (what’s that all about?)
It’s taken me all morning to puzzle it out. Three swords: writing, editing, researching.
I forgot who I am again, but it’s right there at the top of my blog: The commatologist is a writer, editor, and researcher.
This morning I worked out a weekly schedule that allows ample time for each sword. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep them balanced, but I’m going to try.