50 Roads #18 – THE ROAD AROUND THE MESSY BLOCK
So I committed to therapy, and I had a plan for how it would go, it was going to go quickly and aggressively. We were gonna get this done and move on with life!
You see, if there is one thing that has been consistently true about me, no matter what twisting turning roads I’ve been down, it is that I am prolific.
I get things done, and I get things done fast. And most of the time, I get things done beautifully. This is both an incredible blessing and a messy problem. Historically, another thing that’s also been true is that the bigger the thing I’m creating, the bigger the mess I make. Whether it’s in the kitchen, the laboratory, the library, the closet, the studio . . . every dish and tool and book and outfit gets used in these flurries. I leave no stone unturned. I make beautiful things and I make enormous messes.
I have always been able to make something out of anything. It started when I was very young and I would see possibilities in sticks and rocks and garbage on the street. I would weave grass and plants, stack rocks with mud for cement. I would make tiny worlds for fairies that I really believed in. I have been trying to create something else from my first memory.
I’m also a chronic optimist. An impossible dreamer. A girl with my head in the clouds, orchestrating sparkles of light that can only be found up there where dreams are made into reality. I can lose myself in some place a million miles from the grounded earth with the snap of a finger, and sometimes it’s hard to bring me back. I am a mad scientist and a tortured artist and a perpetual seeker. It never ends, it never rests, it always finds a way to break through any way I try to stop the flow. This flow is stronger than I am most of the time.
And so I have learned to be incredibly prolific. It has been paramount in the creation of so much loveliness and also so much complication. When I’m in the flow of creation it sometimes looks like a river of light and it sometimes looks like the tornado in Wizard of Oz, complete with a swirling live cow.
I get stuff done, but sometimes it’s way too much. Sometimes it’s way too soon. Sometimes it’s way too fast. Sometimes it starts to take on an energy all its own, like a flash flood that forces its way through whatever place it can rush and flow.
I deal constantly with flash floods of thoughts, ideas, dreams and visions. My brain did not seem to have an “off” switch and even if it looks from the outside like I’m not doing much, my whole inner world is constantly having planning meetings, my brain is constantly looking at everything in the world as raw material to create something else. Give me a bag of random things and I will return having created something completely new from it.
And I don’t want things to take a long time. I don’t want anyone ever telling me that something is impossible. I will quietly rebel every time someone tells me a limitation of any kind, and my mind will immediately go to work figuring out how to defy impossibility — how to not only return with something useful, but also something magical and impossible. It’s my favorite thing, and I couldn’t have stopped doing it if I wanted to. It is who I am.
The people in my life are well versed in my cycles of creation and the messes I make while making magic. I have a suspicion that it’s the hardest part about being in my life. The way I make enormous messes and then feel completely overwhelmed by what it’s going to take to clean them up. The way I get “lost” in my creating, and the way I get tangled up in the chaos and mess that gets made between what was and what is now. So many times I’ve emerged from these periods of deep creativity and I bring what I’ve created out to the open, all bundled up like a brand new baby to present to my beloveds. And then I completely fall apart when I see the mess I didn’t even know I made, and it’s got to be cleaned up. I mean this both literally and figuratively. The people I’ve worked with either embrace this and help me, or try to change me and passive-aggressively berate me. And believe me, I’ve tried to change. I’ve gotten better with age. I’ve learned to slow down. I’ve learned to plan things out and harness the energy of a flash flood rather than get swept away in it. I’ve learned that the flash flood is going to come no matter what I do, and that if I just plan for it and create safety around it, I can mitigate a lot of damage and a lot of mess and actually utilize it in positive ways.
I have also read hundreds of books about hundreds of things. I research incessantly. I catalogue both the experiences I’ve had alone and with others, every book I’ve read, every comment I’ve read on every message board about every subject. I have a deep desire to know how everyone feels about everything. I want to understand every facet of every human experience. I remember the stories I hear from every human and those get catalogued too. I watch the way people move through their lives, the way they progress, what makes them happy and what puts the light in their eyes, and what takes it out of their eyes. I study how world events affect us as a human family, how we are similar and how we are different. I ask questions constantly and I have to make myself stop asking questions because sometimes a conversation with me feels more like an interrogation. But truthfully, I am just absolutely fascinated, interested and in love with almost every human I ever meet. The entire world and the entire human family has been a beautiful 1 million piece puzzle that I’ve been trying to figure out my whole life. So I am constantly seeking to find new facets, patterns in old facets, and especially what puts the light in the eyes of every precious person, and what takes the light out of their eyes.
And then I try to create solutions for suffering out of all of the things I’ve gathered. It’s what I’ve always done.
It’s what I love. It’s who I am. It’s messy and beautiful.
Well then the world stopped and suddenly I was the thing that sat on my creating table, in my sketchbook, in my pressure cooker. I was the thing that was shifting and ready to blow.
I was the mess that was about to be made.
When I came to terms with the fact that I was going to be my biggest research project, my biggest puzzle to be solved, my biggest mess to clean up and my biggest creation to put together, I knew I could do it fast and efficiently. I had created millions of things quickly and beautifully, I could do the same for myself! And then I could get back to work. I knew I could be prolific in my own creation of myself.
Boy, was I wrong.
It’s like someone told me that I’ve got to go on a journey, and it’s all about the journey. Don’t we get told that a lot? It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, right?
Well, I figured I could be very prolific on my journey all the way around the block. I knew what I was capable of. So I made a plan to “fix myself” as quickly as possible. And I figured that a little bit of therapy and a new location would do the trick.
It would just be a little trip around the block and then everything could get back to normal.
I took quite a few roads around the block before I figured out that I was just going in circles, down old familiar roads that brought me right back to the place I had grown out of. And that in my need to get finished quickly and efficiently, I was just wasting time and wearing myself out. It looked like momentum, and it was, but it was really more traveling procrastination than anything.
After a few frustrating and exhausting and prolific trips around that same familiar track, I finally surrendered to what was happening, and how big of a mess it was going to make.
This wasn’t going to be me doing the creating in the way I was used to, this was me being created by the energy that had been building up for eons, like a volcano. There was no stopping it.
On an upcoming road, I will tell you about how after we left in the RV, I started getting up close to mountains rather than viewing them in the distance . . . all kinds of mountains. After one particularly spectacular and steep climb to the top of a really cool place, I decided I wanted to climb 100 mountains that year. And I did it. That was quite a road that I will tell you about soon, but there’s something that I learned about the mountains and the canyons and the cliffs and the ravines and the river washes that I grew to love so much on those 100 climbs . . . they all came to be from a tremendous mess of chaos.
I climbed a few mountains that were formed from volcanos sometime way back in history. I climbed mountains that swelled up from the earth after massive earthquakes sometime back in history. I hiked canyons that got formed from the erosion of swift running water, flash floods and regular consistent flowing rivers. Destroying to create. Destroying to create. Destroying to create.
I experienced and enjoyed the result of nature’s “chaos,” and learned what massive amounts of energy can do to create something new. I learned when energy explodes and looks like so much destruction, it is creating something new and different at the same time. And that when that pent up energy finally expels, what once was becomes something entirely new.
The heat and explosions and shifting of our earth taught me so much about myself. About my creative explosions and the messes that are an inevitable part of putting all of my own energy into something. I was at times a volcano, a flash flood, an earthquake. And the messes were the “shadow side” of how prolific I am.
I started my first big creative venture when I was 25 years old. It was a multimillion dollar, worldwide company within a few years. I had a team to help me create and to clean up. We had to let that company go after Marq’s accident and then I started another, again with a team. We created and cleaned up together.
This time, it was just me and my RV. And I had a long journey ahead. And no team to help me clean up the aftermath of creative explosions. And I was the thing exploding this time, I was the thing being created. I was the mess. I was the chaos.
After those few desperate trips around the block, I realized that this was going to be a long game, a long process, to allow my own inner earthquakes, my own inner volcanos, my own inner floods, my own erosion, my own forest fires, my own droughts, my own fractures . . . and all of the mess that goes along with it.
And the unpredictable, uncontrollable nature of what was happening had to be trusted. I had to trust the process of my own destruction — because I knew there was the possibility of a new creation once the terrifying tremors of change calmed down.
I also had to look back at what a nightmare I must have been to work with to people who didn’t love the magic of the mess. When I was stuck alone in my little RV with my own prolific nature and my own messes, I really started to understand how to some people, this chaos is exciting and magical, and to others, it is annoying and appears to be counterproductive.
I thought about all of the times in my creative career when others tried to be helpful and change my process. They wanted to stop the volcanos and stop the flash floods and stop the earthquakes. Or they wanted to be able to start a volcano or flash flood on command, and stop it on command. They wanted to harness all of this energy and bottle it up and make it more efficient. If I was going to have creative explosions, they needed it to be planned and controlled. They wanted to plan them out and calm them down and make them consistent and predictable. They wanted to control the outcome of the experiment. They didn’t want any kind of mess, only beauty. They didn’t want any kind of chaos or experiments, only beautiful outcomes. They wanted me to make mountains, but without earthquakes or volcanos. They wanted me to create deep canyons, but without flash floods and fast running rivers. They wanted me to stop being messy and only be prolific. They wanted me to be able to duplicate the processes that ended up in particularly spectacular results. Most of the time they were just trying to be helpful. It must have been such a nightmare for them. I know it was for me.
Because I wanted that too, but every attempt at defying the nature of raw creation failed. And so I thought I was the failure.
I am so angry about this now. I think about the way I tried so hard to be someone different than I am, and how much I betrayed myself. I think about how I went along with plans and ideas that I knew were incomplete and would never work. I think about the way I participated in dumbing myself down, shaming myself and trying so hard to be acceptable and mainstream.
And I think about how there’s a really great place for everyone to be awesome at what they are awesome at . . . but we aren’t all awesome at everything, everywhere. Sometimes people and situations, even when they are both awesome, are not a good match. I am not a good match for people who need predictive structure, because you never know what kind of mountain is going to form from a volcano, you just have to trust that it’s going to be just right, and totally unique and amazing. I AM a good match with people who love to be in the laboratory and love the magic of new discoveries so much that they don’t mind at all that a mess comes along with trying new things and expanding on old things. I love the people who don’t complain about sweeping up the confetti after a party, because the party was SO SPECTACULAR and part of enjoying the party is cleaning up the mess.
Creation is messy. It just is.
So when I started seeing that I was the thing being created, I started to understand why I was also the thing being destroyed — it was chaotic and messy. And I didn’t want to shame myself about the mess. I didn’t want to try to plan the outcome. I didn’t want to follow some old guidebook that would just yield outdated results.
I wanted to let myself be created by the energy of a shifting environment. I wanted to trust that because all of us on this planet ARE part of nature. We are just like everything else, always becoming something new. And sometimes we become someone new in gentle and beautiful ways . . . like a rose going from a tight bud to an open flower. It’s so beautiful and gentle and lovely.
But then sometimes, we get to become something new from what we might call natural disasters. Sometimes it’s the storms and the earthquakes and the active volcanos that end up taking what we once were, and shifting it into something different entirely. Sometimes parts of us get washed away, blown away and melted away. And what remains sometimes looks like an awful mess.
So I packed my bags after those first few trips around the block and I braced myself for a trip around the world, a trip around the universe — the universe I would find right inside of myself.
And I set out on a road that I didn’t know at all.
So, beautiful mess-maker,
What chaos do you avoid that could actually bring new creations if you embraced it? AND
What has blown up or shaken up in your life, leaving you in a pile of rubble, and what beautiful new landscape got created because of it?
We just can’t fight change, my friends. It’s an awesome adventure we are all on. It’s messy.
You might think that when I packed my bags to travel around the universe, that I had it all figured out. But I didn’t. So tomorrow, I will show you The Road Where I Had No Idea.
See you there.
WIth great love,