I’m reading a fantastic and life-affirming book at the moment, called ‘The Artist’s Way’. It’s a 12 week course in self-growth, aimed at unlocking your creativity. If you’ve ever felt that you’ve abandoned your artistic spirit (which is there within all of us) due to work, family or other commitments, then I’d highly recommend this book.

I mention this as one of the many topics which the author, Julia Cameron, covers is what she calls ‘kriyas’ – a Sanskrit word referring to a spiritual emergency or surrender. These tend to express themselves in emotional outbursts or declines, just at the point where you’ve put mind, body and spirit through the grinder with all the hours spent in an exhausting job, or in an abusive relationship, or looking after everyone else except yourself. As Julia Cameron writes,

Always significant, frequently psychosomatic, kriyas are the final insult our psyche adds to our injuries. “Get it?” a kriya asks you. Get it:

You can’t stay with that abusive lover

You can’t work at a job that demands eighty hours a week

You can’t rescue a brother who needs to save himself

I felt this kriya in the last few days – this feeling that it is time to surrender, time to let go. This followed a period of self-pity and depression after a particularly dismal couple of weeks. Let me give a run-through by way of an explanation.

Week One centred on a job rejection, following the first interview I’ve had in months, for a position in a humanitarian organisation I used to work for and felt very comfortable in. I thought I had everything working in my favour, and spent several days preparing for the interview, which was preceded by several days of preparing the application itself. I walked into the interview feeling confident and walked out of it with a desperate and consuming neediness; ‘Please give me this job!’ I called out to the universe and wrote in my journal pages. Surely this is what I’ve been waiting for all this time. Needless to say, when the news came that I hadn’t succeeded, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Telling Mum and Dad wasn’t so nice either, knowing that as loving and doting parents they would suffer almost as much as me with this blow, and that given we all live under the same roof I’d have no choice but to manage their reactions as well as my own.

Then in Week Two I had surgery on my knee. My right knee has a five year history of dis-ease, involving x-rays, MRI scans, physiotherapy, osteopathy and ultrasound injections. I agreed to have an arthroscopy (key-hole surgery) with some hesitation, but with the reassurance that it was being conducted by a knee specialist recommended by a relative of mine. The results remain to be seen; the knee is still weak and dressed in post-op plasters and tubi-grip. A bigger setback came with my reaction to the general anaesthetic and codeine, which left me drowsy and sick, and vulnerable to a whole series of emotions which I’d managed to keep at bay for some time. This began with frustration at not having the energy to even read or write, and degenerated into self-doubt over whether I have anything meaningful to write about in the first place, followed by despair that actually, I have very little to offer of any value in my life right now. Oh, and let’s not forget all the other demons that appear at such moments – self-pity over not having a job, over not having enough fun, over not having any romance etc etc. Oh dear lord…..

Excuse me whilst I just pick myself up off the kerb (taking care not to lean too heavily on my right knee). We all have our vulnerabilities; our moments where our vision is blurred by the all-pervasive ego shouting at us all the things we hate about ourselves and our lives. But there always is something to learn from difficult episodes.

So what I realised from Week One was that I was going through a period of mourning, and not just over the job interview (after all, a rejection is never a pleasant experience).  I was mourning the loss of an entire career which I’ve identified myself with in the last ten years. Because one of the immediate reactions to reading the e-mail notifying me that I hadn’t been appointed, was that I can’t do this anymore. All those hours spent preparing, raising my hopes, convincing myself this is the job I’ve been waiting for. All that mental and emotional effort, for something that deep down I’m still questioning: Is this really me? Am I ready once again to commit my time, my thoughts, my life, to man-made and natural disasters beyond my control; to raise within myself the courage to work in a range of different countries on a variety of complex and difficult issues, in the hope that despite all the bureaucracy, all the jargon, all the doubt and anxiety that goes with doing international development work, I’m making a difference? Is this really who I want to be, even just for one more year? The gentle voice from within said No – I have to let go of those things I’m hanging on to which are not pushing me forward on my journey. As I have remarked in an earlier post, a transition requires a leap into the unknown; and at some point this requires putting old habits and actions behind you and taking a brave step forward.

A bit about stepping forward, because this is significant in the week that I also have knee surgery. Any Chinese doctor will tell you that pain in the leg, along with kidney and bladder problems, is associated with obstructions in our development, and fears of moving forward. So this surgery has come at a symbolic time in my life, as I embark on a path of self-growth. The past two weeks have told me that if I want my real self to blossom – not the one that is an activist, a development or humanitarian worker – and tap in to the creative spirit which Julia Cameron encourages us to recover within ourselves, I have to let go.

Therein lies my kriya. I have to surrender, and invite in new opportunities, work and non-work related, starting from now. So, dear readers, if you would like to leave any comments to this blog, please consider within them anything out there  – new ventures, new ideas, new inspirations – that I might like to keep an eye out for. This blog and from the feedback received from it has already been a massive source of inspiration and encouragement, and believe that more exciting things are just around the corner. Better days must come!

 Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.

Ovid

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