MUDDLED MIND

Muddling works for mojitos and mint juleps but it isn’t great for the mind. In fact it’s dreadful to feel at loose ends, directionless, lacking purpose. It can drag a person down.

For the past two months I’ve hosted a colony of ants under my skin. You may know the feeling. My body insisted on a constant state of motion, demanding long walks in excruciating 90°F (32°C) heat. I’d come home red-faced, drenched in sweat, ripping off clothes as I bee-lined for the shower.

For years I’ve guarded my solitude. Too much socializing drained me – at least that’s the story I told myself. Now I was the one organizing get-togethers, entertaining out-of-town guests, making any excuse I could conjure to keep myself busy.

Countless times I opened my computer, stared at the novel I’d been writing, and wondered where I’d found all those words. Two minutes, three, squinting, reading a few lines. Then I’d shake my head, hit the power-off button and message a friend or two to meet for lunch.

Distraction was the name of the game and I was winning.

During one of those get-togethers, the topic of vision boards came up. It seems my friends also felt anchorless. We agreed to meet at my house and see if we could muster clarity with the cut-and-paste approach. I found old issues of Vanity Fair and a National Geographic at the Smile Shop – Ubud’s Goodwill-type donation store – and snatched them up. Years ago in the States I had stacks of Architectural Digest, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle, House Beautiful, and Country Living. But not here. Finding six dusty, ripped, moth-eaten magazines was like striking gold.

On the appointed day we gathered at the dining table with paints, pencils, markers, scissors, glue, and the ratty magazines. Pages turned. Nobody spoke. The air hung heavy and still with the intensity of our concentration. I hadn’t a clue what I was hoping to accomplish. But every-now-and-then a picture jumped out at me. Or a word leaped off the page. Soon I was snipping feverishly with a collection growing beside me.

We did well, but after forty-five minutes the silent focus was unsustainable.

“I’m hungry,” I said.

My friends looked up, dazed. “Well, it’s five o’clock somewhere. Let’s go eat.”

We chatted in the back garden of a nearby cafe that happened to have two-for-one happy-hour cocktails. And what luck! My favorite drink of all time was on offer: frozen mojitos. I wasn’t born during the depression but there’s something about two-for-one anything that makes it immoral to have just one. I had two frozen mojitos and a to-die-for roasted-veggie salad.

After whiling away a few more hours at the restaurant, my friends left promising they’d work on their projects at home. I felt the mellowing effect of my drinks but was strangely energized and eager to see if the stack of cut-outs had a common theme. Would a direction emerge? Had my subconscious or a bevy of capricious Bali spirits come out of hiding to help me choose those words and pictures?

I’m not a crafty person. Normally I’d devise any excuse to avoid this kind of activity. But as I arranged the images that same laser-like focus returned. Body, mind, and spirit engaged and I saw myself reflected in pictures and words that validated the very essence of who I am. It didn’t spell out in a sentence, Sherry, do this, yet the message was unmistakable.

You know the feeling when you’re telling someone your deepest truth and they get it? I felt like that looking at my board. A bubble of joy that made me laugh. A sense of relief that I’d worked through the fog and could see the way ahead. And gratitude. Gratitude for friends. Gratitude for the simplicity of a vision board to help gain self-knowledge. And gratitude for this place where energies abound to support the inner journey.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kate
    Dec 10, 2019 @ 05:05:50

    Oh Sherry, I resonated so much with your descriptions… of yourself and ants under your skin; distraction as a verb; non-crafty; loving hh 2 for 1’s! So of course, I want to wonder – what clarity did you find? Paint the walls kind or I’m moving locations kind? Or??! I have often thought of a vision board but I am so easily distracted, non crafty and fear that I will be the one with a pile of clippings that mean nothing. And I’ll think about it after happy hour 🙂

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  2. writingforselfdiscovery
    Dec 10, 2019 @ 14:02:36

    Hi Kate,

    I loved your comments! I’m glad my descriptions translated clearly to you but I’m not surprised you couldn’t detect direction from it. There are vision boards and vision boards. Some are constructed intentionally – we know what we want and find images that portray that desire so we keep the visuals of our dreams in front of us willing them into reality. The other kind is the intuitive one, like mine. I was muddled. There were too many directions I could go. So I yielded to the process and just allowed whatever materialized to inform me.

    What I see in my board is a person who loves travel and independence and is anchored by her comfortable home, her books, her social life, and like-minded friends. But the words: change the world with a pen, showed me so much. I love to write but what I love writing most are short pieces like this one that other people can relate to. If I can inspire just one person to do something that helps them through a mind-muddle or a dark time, that is the desire of my heart.

    When I looked at the finished board I realized that any pursuit that didn’t feed into that passion to write and connect in positive and helpful ways with others, was not for me.

    So prepare your materials: magazines, scissors, glue, a piece of cardboard or stiff paper – then go to happy hour and see what happens when you come back!

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  3. Kate
    Dec 10, 2019 @ 14:22:03

    Thanks for writing back, Sherry, and encouraging me! I will do just that!! Who knows? I’ve already found the clearness of being ‘fallow’ for a month in winter, taking the learnings from the Norwegians and Hegge – it was phenomenal growth! I think preparing me to be open to the next choice!

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