I close the door as quietly as possible, right after I whisper the last, “Goodnight, I love you.” and I walk into the small portion of my night when I am no longer needed by people under three feet tall. I feel blessed and tired and exhausted and at the same time, ideas have been stirring all day, waiting a for their turn.
Right here, I have a choice.
I could relinquish to the tired/exhaustion combo, fill the kettle for tea and discover a show that I never knew I wanted to watch. Before I know it, the hours have slipped away and I’m ready to meet my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Pillow. And all I’ve done is drool over diner food and played lame words on Words with Friends.
I go directly to my computer, but still do the tea kettle part and I tap tap on the morning pages document. I enter today’s date and go. My fingers fly at a speed that speaks nothing of exhaustion. All of a sudden, from my soul, my heart is unleashed and the jumbles get punctuation and transform into complete thoughts, most of the time following the grammatical rules that make my English degree happy. Often, though, not. These thoughts, now clauses and phrases, they have a place to stay, I’ve built them a little home and no longer do they feel the need to occupy my brain.
And sometimes, it’s like my fingers know a secret message and they’ve been waiting for me to listen, because the words that come out are now front and center and in my stillness, when I have relinquished control over to the free writing, stream of consciousness act. I don’t even know what I’m typing, but they appear on the screen and I think, hey yes, I do feel that way, thanks for telling me. When my hands stop being busy with the beautiful and demanding responsibilities of the day, they are free to bring order to all the things that felt jumbled in my head. And strangely enough, after the frenzy of the click clack on the keys, my hands know when to stop. I take a breath. Clarity. Peace. Stillness. Want to know something else, I don’t feel so exhausted now and all that’s left is creative energy, roaring to go.
I could find myself back in front of the TV and believe me, I’m not against it, but in this season of my life, creative time is precious and I feel so much better when I use it well. I try to watch only the shows I love and instead, pick up a book or sit down with another project. And there is nothing wrong with collapsing on to the couch in front of HGTV for three hours of House Hunters International, yelling SOLD at the gorgeous villas set in picturesque Italian vineyards, but when you find yourself unsatisfied with your creative output, you have to decide, only you can make it a priority. No one else will free you to be creative, not even your thoughts.
Sometimes, I meet people who find themselves with great creative ambition, but feel too drained to even form a complete sentence. I wonder if this might help. I wonder if the act of de-cluttering your head, the way you do your home, would do wonders for your inspiration and creative energy.
Try it, let me know. Or if you have any great practices and tips on how you fight off exhaustion, I’d love to hear them, they may encourage others as well.