Writing and toilet bowls are synonymous for me. I know. I know. I'm not writing when I'm scrubbing the toilet. I am avoiding. But even in my avoidance, I am creating. Creating a clean space to meditate, to vacate, to void. Creating through putting my body in motion. Through movement. For in those round sweeping, jagged and harsh movements of cleaning up the evidence of life's wasteful passages, I become open to the 'collective consciousness' through which I believe creativity flows through me, into me, around me, about me.
No matter how hard I try to avoid her, even when cleaning the toilet, she is within me. Constantly stirring. Constantly moving me; through, in, out, about, around. My creative spirit. She bullies me into dropping my defences. She pummels me into softening my resistance. She moulds me into acquiescence, into that place where I become a bowl, a receptacle, a vessel. The divine conduit of my creative forces pounding their way through my senses, searching for a way out, a way to give birth to my essence finding itself again and again, on the page, on the screen and even on the surface of a white porcelain bowl.
I learned this in 2009. A year when my commitment to write, every day, was constantly challenged by the calling of that distracting siren of my toilet luring me into its seductive void.
And I did. Give in to its call. Not everyday. Who needs a toilet that clean? But give in I did. Again and again. I released my fingertips from the keyboard. I turned away from the blank page of my monitor and hustled myself off, in fluffy pink slippers and favourite sweat pants, to take up my weapons of germ destruction -- bright pink latex gloves to protect my delicate fingertip pads, environmentally sensitive toilet bowl cleanser (we all gotta do our bit) and my designer scrub brush I bought from a 'going out of business sale' at my no longer favourite ('cause it's no longer there) Bath and Bed store.
Armed and ready, I attacked every single germ ever known to mankind in my toilet bowl with absolute commitment and fervour. I was on task. On target. On fire. I was a whirling cleaning dervish.
And through it all, the cursor blinked its beady eye, its accusatory leer a constant reminder of what I was avoiding. Of what I was giving up on.
It didn't matter where I ran. In a house of three toilets I had options. I had lots of germ-filled fodder to grist my avoidance mill. It didn't matter. Even with my head stuck in a porcelain bowl, she found me.
Come back. Come back. Her sibilant hiss whispered in my ear. Come, put your fingers on the smooth surface of the a, the s, the d, the f. Here. Let your right hand come closer. J, k, l. Ahhh, the colons. To pause or not to pause? Semi or full? With just a slight shift you can take a break. Take a breath. Pause. Stop. You're safe here. The right and left never the 'twain shall meet. There is much between them that can be shared. The g. The h. Let them be your safe ground. Let them become your haven. That space between the right side and the left where you breathe deeply and let the vowels flow. They're just an index fingertip away from touching. They can meet on the common ground of the white screen before you. Let them guide you. Let the letters flow through you. Let the muse give birth to the majesty of words forming upon your screen. Be not afraid. You are safe.
I tried to block her out. I tried to ignore her call. But, no matter how hard I ran from my fear of the muse's painful birth rising up within me, threatening to pour her guts out upon my keyboard, to fill that blank screen with words I judged long before they ever took form, she kept calling. And I kept coming back. To the keyboard. To the screen. To that lonely planet where I sit locked in the spirit of my creation.
It was a good year 2009.
I had many moments of cleaner than clean toilets and many moments of creative bliss. Moments when the letters crawled onto the screen in the painful agony of spewing out words too painful to touch. Moments when they danced up off the keyboard, springing of their own volition onto the monitor in a joyous stream of words that lit up the sky of my imagination. And moments when they simply appeared, as if through magic, to create a wondrous oasis of calm and peace amidst the maddening crowd of letters crawling before me, clamouring for release. Fat and juicy vowels, strict and strident consonants, soft beguiling letters forming words that shimmered in the light of the creative spirit coming alive.
And what did I learn?
Even with my head stuck in a white porcelain bowl, searching for errant germs hiding out under the rim; my creative spirit will not be stilled. She stirs me to come back to this place. This sometimes painful. Sometimes joyful. Sometimes messy. And dirty and scummy and scuzzy and confused and oh so necessary place where I find myself. This place where I am me in all my messy, dirty, scummy, scuzzy, confused and oh so necessary way of being who I am.
I cannot avoid my creative urges. I cannot shut down my creative soul or turn off my creative spirit. I must set her free. Release her. Embrace her. Become her. There's no way out but through. I must go through her to find myself, no matter where I am. And it is here, sitting at my keyboard, staring at the screen, emptying my mind and reaching into my heart that I come alive. It is here, writing what flows through me, into me, around me, about me that I find myself. Time and time again. No matter where I run. No matter how many porcelain bowls I disappear into. It is here I find myself. It is here I know peace.