Have you ever experienced a lightning bolt of inspiration to immediately do something very strange and not like you at all?
And when it happened, did you give in to the sudden urge or dismiss it as odd and childish and not very practical at all and go back to being a normal grown up?
I’ve definitely experienced such urges from time to time.
Sometimes they’re big weird urges — like a sudden desperation to chase a tornado in my car or pack up and move to Mexico.
Other times the urges are more… inappropriate. Like the impulse to revenge-cough in the face of a person who just sneezed unabashedly uncovered in the check out line, releasing a great and visible spray of very personal germs for all of us to share and feel and breathe. *shudder*
Most of the time I opt to be a grown up and not yield to the impulse.
I was wandering in our country yard. My husband and children were all outside too, and witnessed what happened next.
I was minding my own business when suddenly the 100-year old willow trees at the far end seemed to beckon me. My eyes locked onto the low-hanging limbs that seemed bent perfectly to accommodate easy climbing. Before I realized it, I was walking toward the tree, as if in a trance.
“Mom, what are you doing?” one of the children asked from behind me.
“I’m going to climb that tree!”
I tossed her a smile and then bolted for the tree, becoming five years old and giggling. At the tree I grabbed onto the thick rippled bark, and stepped up into the tree.
I inched forward, upward, stepping onto an almost horizontal limb and side stepped further and further out.
Mark and the children gathered beneath me, taking in the spectacle of Kim in a tree.
“What are you doing?” Mark laughed.
“I don’t know!” I laughed back “I just wanted to climb this tree!”
Instantly, the desire to be in the tree left. I was ready to come down. That’s when I realized how high up I was and how old I was, and how jumping down might result in breaking my old-person bones.
I tried inching my way back, but the courage that had accompanied the impulse had fallen away and been replaced by fear. I couldn’t move.
For the first time in my life, I understood how cats could possibly be trapped in trees.
Because sometimes courage is only operative on the way up.
“Are you stuck??” Mark laughed.
“No!” I said. I kept standing there, trying to think my way out of the tree.
Mark turned and began walking away from the tree, just leaving me there.
“Where are you going?!” I yelled after him.
“To get a ladder!” he called back, smiling.
“I don’t need a ladder! I’m not stuck!” I said, still standing there, frozen, being stuck.
When he returned with the ladder I was still standing there feeling quite sheepish. He was right. I was stuck. I did need a ladder.
So I don’t climb trees anymore. But I have much more admiration for people who can, and have much more compassion for cats who can’t.
I look back on that with a goofy sort of pride in myself — I took a risk! I did something I’d never done before. That’s pretty cool. And sure, I didn’t victoriously accomplish some epic heroism, but I did a thing. And in front of other people who watched and now share that same memory with me and who were there to save me from myself. Phewf! (How long would I have been stuck there without them? I might STILL be up there!)
Let me ask you something.
Are you feeling stuck on that book you’ve been meaning to write?
You’re not the only one. Trust me, after 20 years of writing and working with writers, I can tell you this is common to us all — we get stuck. Distracted. Discouraged. Stalled.
If you’ve been thinking about writing a book, a story, or your own personal memoir, I just want to encourage you to go for it. Take the risk. Climb that tree. Write that book.
Just don’t do it alone. Have witnesses who can enjoy the process with you.
And who can bring you a ladder!
If you’re feeling stuck in that proverbial tree, I’ve got a ladder for you.
In a few weeks I’m launching round two of Write Your Book in 90 Days. Sound impossible? The first group wrote their first draft in SIXTY days! And they walked away empowered, invigorated, creatively refreshed.
If you’re tired of feeling stuck, Write Your Book in 90 Days will help.
In the meantime, stayed tuned for more stories (that tornado reference was a real one — that story soon to come!)