Wednesday Wonders:What if Superman Couldn’t Take it Anymore?

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On Monday, I hobbled into my teaching job. Every other step, pain zipped though the right side of my hip and forced me into a jerking sort of movement just short of a collapse. I could not keep my face straight or look people in the eyes until it eased up again.

Over and over I heard the words: “Are you okay?”

And, because I like honest answers to this question, I said, “No.” Over and over.

The day before, I had been feeling so much better I thought I could go for a glorious forty five minute walk on a blustery day with an eagle soaring above me and later surprising me by flying right in front of me.

I don’t like taking long breaks.

Short breaks are lovely but breaks that last more than a few days get on my nerves. My hip has been teaching me that, although I might feel healed after one physical therapy treatment, this does not mean I can go on an intense walk up hills.

The same sort of thing happens with my writing.

After meeting my deadlines I made everything stop. I hadn’t taken a single day off from writing in weeks and, like I wrote earlier, I needed time to play with paints and let my mind wander away from my checklists. I gave myself a week to leave the words behind.

I made it four days before I couldn’t take it anymore and ached for my pen and keyboard.

 

Shortly after that (and before my disastrous walk), I wrote this piece on Superman in an exercise I found in Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine.

Superman Calls It Quits

It was the look in her eyes that first made me snap. Even my cat didn’t glare at me with that much disdain when I forgot to buy his food after a busy day pretending to be Clark Kent.

“You could have come a bit sooner, you know.” She stood now, brushing herself off and putting a hand out to keep me at arm’s length.

As I felt the sting of her words, I couldn’t help but notice how perfect her face was. Everything about her features was symmetrical — her lips looked like something an anime artist would draw. Seeing her filled me with an ache that made me want to turn away. Or do anything for her.  Even jump to the top of the burning bridge where Lex Luther had put her about an hour ago.

Which is what got me into this mess to begin with.

“I needed you to get me off that bridge right away. And you couldn’t even manage to save me without tearing my dress on the trusses.” She picked up the flimsy thing around her legs and waved it to show me the rip in the fabric. Apparently, she wore it to dinner with Luther after he’d bribed her with the promise of a good story.

She was right, of course. I didn’t really know how this rescue work was supposed to go. I’d just started a few months ago with little experience battling bad guys or saving people who got themselves into peril.

I nodded, knowing I should say something. Anything. But nothing was coming to me. My Super Tongue was stuck to the roof of my Super Mouth and the man of steel was no match for the wrath of this woman who was late for her next appointment.

She gave me one last exasperated look, threw her hair back, and climbed down off the rock where I set her earlier, underestimating my speed and causing her to turn her ankle.

I watched her struggle on her own and slip into the mud as she huffed along and knew better than to offer help again.

Right then I decided  to quit. Obviously, I was not cut out for hero work and damsels would be better off without me.

 

Maybe the poor guy needed to take a break. And not just a short one. Superman and I will keep working on it and taking shorter walks for now.

May you find the rest you need-

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A recycled bit on the wonder series:

I love the way writing and other art forms open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.

I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.

Facebook Fasting

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I first started using Facebook when I went to China in 2008. Back then, the status line read Karrie Zylstra Myton is …. and I was supposed to fill in the present continuous with an -ing verb. Which only English teachers could name like the nerds that we are. It was fun. I loved feeling so connected to my friends back in the states and my only disappointment was that my computer averse husband never did post his statuses for me. Facebook held no charm for him.

Although I was disappointed in him, a part of me now envies him. Facebook calls me a bit more than I care to admit. I’m not talking about privacy issues here. I’m talking about where I want to be spending my life. The siren sound of Facebook sometimes pulls me into swirling waters. She looks beautiful and sometimes she is. But sometimes she eats up the time I want for my writing. And sometimes I think too much about what others are thinking because of her.

A colleague at work feels the same way about Pinterest. “Pinterest is a Problem,” she said. Apparently she wakes up first thing thinking about what others have pinned and what she can find to put on her boards. Listening to her let me know I’m not alone in my social media troubles.

When I started chapter 4 of the Artist’s Way, I decided to include Facebook in the ‘reading deprivation’ that Julia Cameron recommends. I gave up Facebook and curtail my emailing for one week. And I was unpleasantly surprised at how hard that was for me. I felt myself pulled to it when I knew I didn’t need it.

I know I’m not the first to think of this.  One of my favorite bloggers and online art teacher Melody Ross gave up Facebook for an extended period. Here is her blog post about it  along with an excellent video comparing a Facebook life to a strict cool whip diet.

I also heard a piece on NPR talking about this and found an article from a renegade Facebook escapee who wrote a book about her experiences as a fb employee.

After my week, I learned  how restful it is to lay off the status checking and posting. I felt relaxed at the end of my week. I felt less pulled and my mind less scattered to the four corners of what everyone is doing every minute of the day.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against social media and have no plans to give it up for good. I love my connections online and the people I’ve met there as well as old friends I can now stay in touch with. I feel like it is a better way for me to get ‘news’ than the tradition media offers.

I also don’t think that this is a ‘new’ problem — this need to disengage from interactions goes back, I believe for all of time, especially for those of us introverts. Henry David Thoreau, after all, was making an escape long before the Internet.

I am, however, taking steps to give myself more rest from my online interactions.  I’m loving the time it gives me for art and family. If you’re curious about how it feels, give it a try. Just be gentle with yourself if you, like me, find yourself sorely tempted to break your fast. It helped me to say, “Wow. That’s interesting that way that I’m compulsively drawn to checking my page or email or what have you.”

Say that to yourself and then go play with your kids or pets, or go for a walk, or paint a picture, or write, or play your instrument.  You might be surprised how much you like it. Then please let me know what you thought and how you plan to keep social media in your life without falling over your head into the swirling waters again. For me, it’s a work in progress and I’d love to have suggestions.