It began on a lazy Thursday afternoon. Spring was in full force. Dogs were restless. I was on deadline but exhausted. I kept turning in my writing chair to gaze outside.
The breeze looked cool. The sun appeared warm. Not a cloud in the sky.
Go for a walk.
“Nah. Too much work.”
Now, I often have these inner conversations. Dunno if it’s a writing thing or just plain odd. But that tiny inner voice has gotten me through more successful deadlines, more uncomfortable situations, and more writing blocks than I can count. So, I usually listen to it. But not today. Too much work to get done. Big deadline.
Go outside. You’re just spinning your wheels anyway.
“No. Gotta write.”
Just a fast walk. Day’s burning away. Tomorrow may be cold. Just head out.
‘Yeah… you’re probably right.”
I left the office, snapped a leash on each pup, and headed outside. At the end of the driveway…
I was just about to turn right when I had an uncontrollable urge to go left.
I never go left. That’s the boring route. But I paused, then decided left would yield an acceptable walk.
I proceeded straight to the end of the street and was just about to turn right when my intuition urged me forward, through the park, and veer towards the railroad tracks.
Now, I never walk the tracks alone. We’ve got wild animals out here. I dislike walking the path parallel to the tracks because when a train zooms past, it’s loud, scary, and exceedingly uncomfortable standing a car-width away from that massive mass of steel, strength, and sound.
But the sensation urged me on.
“Perhaps I’ll veer right and walk the tracks to the end of town and then head onto 7th street.”
Nope. I hit the tracks an an uncontrollable urge to turn left overtook me.
I turned left and abandoned Kandiyohi. The dogs pranced on each side of me, seemingly unable to believe their good fortune. Good walks (according to them) always start by the tracks.
The general route for this excursion is to follow the trail until we get to the semaphore. Then we turn around and head back.
It’s only a couple mile trek, but the view’s awesome with lot of wetlands, groves, and multiple critters if you look carefully.
I’m enjoying the day, trudging along when reality hits. I need to get back to work. Deadlines don’t get away from the computer. I’m just about to turn around when my thoughts ring Just a little farther. Go the whole walk.
“Nah. I really have to get back to it.”
Just a little farther.
I pause moment then figure, “I’m soon there.” So I keep walking.
Further down the trail, amazed at how that semaphore didn’t seem to be getting any closer. I’m also noticing my breath quicken. I slow down. “I should turn back,” I ponder, “this is a waste of time.”
You’re almost there. Keep going.
I groan and kept my feet pointed towards my destination. My mind tightened at the thought that I willingly chose two high-energy dogs who need regular walks. My mood isn’t anywhere near happy as I kept moving forward, my intellectual self silently cursing the long route.
Yet that tiny, still voice urged me forward.
I finally got to the semaphore and paused. It felt good. My heart pounded in my ears. The wind brushed my cheeks. Dogs collapsed, panting contentedly, laying in the cool gravel.
I sat on the semaphore ledge and pondered my bad attitude.
It’s funny how this business can drive me batty. When I get in the thick of marketing, it’s easy to forget why I began writing in the first place. When I’ve got a million (or so it feels) e-mails to answer, blogs to update, writing deadlines, I tend to hole myself up in the office and plow through rather than drop the unessential tasks and live life.
If writing is a dream, why do we treat it like a cut-throat business? Dreams are supposed to be nurtured, treasured, prized, not exploited, twisted, and over-monetized.
I pondered how easy it is to take something as beautiful as a dream… a skill you take years to develop… and manipulate it to fit industry expectations until it’s barely recognizable from what you started with.
I reflected on those thoughts, realizing I was approaching my latest project totally wrong. It dawned on me that I sometimes select my projects following entirely wrong criteria.
Rather than follow a path of joy, I often take the road of security. Rather than trust my intuition, I trust logic, thenfind myself in an uncomfortable circumstance of my own making.
Instead of being who I am, I twist myself to conform to other’s expectations.
“Hmmm,” I thought, “this walk may not be a waste of time all…”
With much to ponder, I turned to leave when I saw it, nestled in the grass like a tiny baby. I gasped as my mouth dropped.
It was something completely unexpected, totally delightful, unimaginable.
Laying, glistening white in the sun laid a most perfectly preserved deer skull.
Oh. My. Gosh.
With twelve even teeth, nasal cartilage intact, sinuses unbroken, I stepped towards the incredible display of beauty.
Brittle bones surrounded the doe skull, but nothing else. No soft tissue. No fur. No flies.
Just dry, sun-bleached bones.
I stood and stared at the skull for a while before I touched it lightly with my finger.
Now, I come from a family of non-hunters so this skull-situation felt completely foreign, yet strangely exciting. As a keeper of natural objects, my office is strewn with rocks, semi-precious stones, feathers… each with a unique story to tell. I knew I needed to provide a home for this treasure.
I poked it a few more times (by now the dogs were quite interested with this turn of events so I didn’t have time to dilly dally), to make sure there wasn’t anything “gross” or “moist” attached to it.
So, before Jake and Rudie could nab this perfectly preserved mass of bone, I gingerly raised it from the grass with two fingers and started walking.
As we made our way home, I wondered how long the bones laid there. I also wondered why nobody had damaged the skull as they (apparently) ate the rest of her body.
I wondered how long the skull had laid in that spot and wondered what would have happened to it if I hadn’t found it.
I pondered intuition and its role not only in my life as a writer, but in everyday tasks.
If I hadn’t listened to intuition, I would have stayed in my office, chopping away at that chunk of marble I called a “project.”
Listening to that quiet nudge transformed my day from drudgery to pure magic.
I carried that skull the full mile home with two fingers, swearing to “disinfect my hand” the minute I got home.
I crossed the railroad tracks back into Kandiyohi, and jogged home, still pinching it tight with my thumb and pointer.
As the four of us (by then the doe had acquired a name) scampered up the driveway I dropped the leashes and studied the beautiful skull one last time in the full sun.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune.
Whenever you see this, remember to trust your intuition.
I felt humbled. It was true. If I only trusted my intuition more, I’d keep myself out of so much trouble.
Every time we’ve signed a difficult author to a contract, I’ve known this person wouldn’t mesh with me when I read the initial manuscript.
Every ornery client has revealed himself long before they’ve signed on the dotted line.
Every irritating experience has been foreshadowed by a niggling feeling and/or a still small voice saying, Bad idea.
Logic often trumps intuition… just like it almost did on my little walk… but intuition will always yield far more satisfying results, although the road may seem longer. 🙂
Your assignment? Let intuition rule one day this month. If you don’t have a day, give it an evening.
Ask yourself, “What should I do now?”
Let your gut answer. Then see what happens. Notice your mood. Take note of your creativity level.
It’s a fun experiment. And let me know how it goes.
Whew! I didn’t expect to tell this story. In fact, I planned on keeping it private. But something tells me that you have a “skull” of your own to find.