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by Sylvia Martin

I rushed out of the car like a bolt of lightning, electrified. I dumped the Trader Joe bags on my kitchen table and threw my packages on the floor.  No time for me to check telephone messages, emails, or regular mail.  An inner urgency had possessed me. I had to write NOW. 


It was as if some mischievous spirit had taken over and was playing with my psyche at the most inconvenient time. In fact, for the past few nights I had been waking up in the middle of the night, or around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. when I needed my sleep, with ideas exploding in my brain, like people trapped in an elevator.


When driving, instead of concentrating on the road, my mind was wandering, in la la land. Not a good idea, downright dangerous. Now it was happening again. I had responsibilities and commitments, but I just wanted to write...  The feeling reminded me of wanting to pee really badly and not being able to hold it in any more.


Today was my day off. I had left my house at 8:00 a.m. and hadn’t stopped. It was close to 7:00 p.m. Yoga, library, errands, lunch to celebrate my pregnant niece’s birthday, who is expecting any minute, writing class, gym and finally groceries. My house was a disaster! I had to prepare for the upcoming Passover dinner.  I had book club in four days, and hadn’t even opened the book, and tomorrow I was teaching all day and I hadn’t prepared, but none of that mattered. I didn’t care that the milk and eggs were left on the kitchen counter and the sign on the salad dressing stated “keep refrigerated at all times”, I was completely irrational and irresponsible...  I just wanted to let my fingers loose on the computer keys and write.


Why?  What was so important?  I had no idea, but I was compelled.  It was just a feeling, a priority and purpose that logically didn’t make sense but I listened to it...  I wanted to freeze the feeling of exhilaration.  Capture the essence of who I was at that moment, before the spontaneous free, joyful child disappeared and the inner devil, judgment and criticism began.   I felt like a small child enchanted as she watched soap mixture turn into magically colored bubbles and fly into the sky.  I wanted to freeze the moment before those bubbles popped and disappeared and the voices in my head started,


“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times clean up.”... “Be responsible” “A woman’s work is never done” “Work, work, no time for play”, “Sloppy”, “Not good enough”, “You’ve got nothing to say”...


My mother’s dead, but the tape is still in my head.  Yes, I know those are old messages and consciously I’ve rewritten them into positive affirmations, but like a wound that’s healed, the scar is still there and, although intellectually I understand the process, emotionally whenever I stretch myself and take on new endeavors, when my confidence is somewhat shaky, that devil comes to the surface, but this time I consciously chose to ignore it..


Deciding to leave all the things that I “should” have done and instead allowing me to go with the process was amazing and I know it was a turning point for my creative self. When I am responsible, and do what I need to do, and schedule my writing, it doesn’t flow in the same way. I sit there, often staring at a blank page on the computer screen, one hand on the mouse, the other poised on the key board, motionless. The ideas, which seemed brilliant just moments ago, seem like sandcastles after an ocean storm.


At this moment, it was immaterial that I had nothing concrete to write about, the words just flew out, as if someone else was channeling them. Yes, my ego relishes the thought of being published, having a best seller, touching people’s lives, but that was secondary to what was happening to me at that moment.  I felt aliveness, a passion, a freedom, almost an urgency to surrender to the forces within my soul and record the process on paper. It’s hard for me to capture the sensation I experienced but it was quite remarkable and I want to bottle it. I want more of it.  Ironically, the stuff got put away. I haven’t read my book for book club yet, but I probably will, and if not, it’s not the end of the world.



Editor’s note:

Sylvia Martin is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She teaches general psychology and psychology of intimacy and relationships at two colleges. She co-wrote "What a Woman" a financial planning guide for the newly independent woman. Her focus being the empowerment of women. Twice a year she counsels cancer survivors and their families at a retreat in New Mexico.  She specializes in guided imagery and family systems theory.








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