I have, open on my table, a book on writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
One of her nuggets of advice: each character should have an acre of emotions – their own acre to do with it what they will.
Do they grow flowers and vegetables, or have a garage full of junk? How do they react when someone treads on their acre?What do they carry around in their pockets? she asks.
As I write, I realize that I am a character, with papers wind-scattered over the lawn. As I pick them up I learn more, grow more. Some of them drift away – a lost opportunity, which seems to return when the wind shifts directions.
My life is rich as dung-filled fertilizer – some crappy circumstances and events must simply sit and ferment until I realize the amazing growth they are responsible for. However, I notice the growth more than the dirt lying flat upon the ground. These days, I notice this fertilizer creates flowers filled with amazing people and beautiful sunshine. Occasionally I find a small thorn. It pricks and hurts, but it also gives me a moment to learn and to grow.
If I look around my acre, I know my Vancouver friends and family are there, but they are far away – the other side of the acre. However, they bloom as the most incredible poppies and roses, magnolias and dahlias. I can smell their uplifting scent and see their brightness from far away.
I also see my acre as my space. Sometimes I feel very protective of it. Often this fierce protectiveness occurs when I’ve been stepped on, or when I haven’t given myself enough space to grow. I fight for that space to open for only me – a selfish stance, but I realize if I don’t take care of myself, my acre, I don’t have the same energy and sunshine to take care of others.
What does your acre look like?
There may be butterflies and babies or sewage and storms. Perhaps there is an electrical charge of lightening – energy that becomes a source of strength. Intense energy can be useful. As a mother you learn from the intensity of love, and as you and your child grows it becomes stronger – you and your child become stronger.
If your acre exists as individual emotions, like flowers, then what are they?
How does your stance or expression change as you pick one emotion, then another? How do you speak, what decisions do you make?
How do you care for others as they come in to your acre – how do they care for you?
As you awaken to a brand new day with an acre of possibilities, what is the first though you have?
What is the last thought you have, the last seed you plant, before you go to sleep each night?
What if that was your last thought in life?
Your acre of land will continue to unfold, give birth to flowers, plants and weeds. Then it dies and has an opportunity to rebirth again, bringing new life to the plants it touches, the fertilizer upon it.
If you had that opportunity to bring life again to your moments, to those you meet, to family and friends, what would you change? How would you do it differently?
Why don’t you do that now? Change what you plant and harvest each day, in your thoughts, actions, and attention.
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