Bucura Lake, Retezat Mountains National Park, Romania

Unsettled. Returning to nature will always be my canvas of exploration and healing

It’s almost midnight. I’m covered in my favorite white cotton sheets, just a few yawns away from a deep dive into sleep. Before my final yawn kicks in, I grab “The secret life of trees”, by Peter Wohlleben, a book I’ve been coming around to time and again. I guess I’m trying to find some sort of creative juice among these pages… 

I start reading about the power battles that take place in a forest between the strong and the weaker trees, between the trees and the animals, and their cohabitation stories. It’s fascinating how metaphorical these dynamics are and how they translate into the world we’re living in now. “Would be great to write something about this”, I often say to myself, trying my best to focus on the subject at hand – understanding trees.

*

In the acoustic background of my bedroom, there are birds chirping, leaves rustling, soft wind blowing through the trees of an unknown forest, as if the pages I am reading have their own soundtrack. *Courtesy of Spotify and Google Nest*.

I actually love falling asleep with forest sounds guiding me through the dreamland, keeping me closer to nature even when I’m guarded by concrete walls instead of a starry sky and pine trees.

Not too far deep into my nature immersion nightly session, I notice a second-plan sound becoming louder and louder, one that lately has been giving me chills more than ever. An ambulance, then another, then another. A sound you don’t often hear at this time of night, so it catches my attention and, just like that, shakes off the fantasy out of my forest-silent night. 

I realize how unsettled it makes me feel, how easily distracted I actually am, and, well, just how much I yearn to be able to write again. Something, anything.

*

The creative process sometimes becomes quite a complicated one. Most of the time, it expresses itself through sheer excitement of discovering and exploring new and great ideas, just as other times it serves us tough challenges, seasoned with doubt and anxiety, making one hit a real slump and falling into a rabbit hole of coulda-shoulda. 

So how do you shake THIS off, huh?

Wake up call, but to what?

The context we’re living in at the moment swirls like a boomerang over an entire country’s mental state that is moments away from imploding, people growing farther and farther away from each other, and the cracks between us all breaking deeper and dividing us more than ever.

I realized that this whole situation has occupied a lot of my mind space lately, distracting me, flooding me with questions and worries about the present and the future, about the people that live just outside my bubble (and, to my disappointment, even inside my bubble). A succumbing feeling of helplessness became such a palpable reality that everything which would naturally bring me to a place of inspiration and creation suddenly fell quiet.

So I don’t know if the ambulance siren was just a reality check over the fact that shit really hit the fan around here lately, considering the COVID rates being on a worrisome rise, and with the pandemic seemingly being so far from an end.

Or maybe that ambulance choir was a simple call-to-action I’ve been needing and asking for in the past few weeks (a couple of months, even). Honestly, I really wanted to take it as an invitation for me to gracefully and dignifiedly kneel down in front of my own fears and frustrations, and collect every single piece that’s been shattered on the ground. Piece by piece, then continue building.

Even though I’m sure it was just a sign of the times we’re living now, I also take that “alarm” as a necessary kick in the butt, because the next second that siren had faded away, I instinctively jumped into my slippers, power walked to get my laptop and Write.Those.Words.Down.

Such a thing as “creative anxiety”

Whoa. After the first few phrases almost sputtered from my mind, I honestly felt a great momentary relief simply for piecing them together. I still have my frustrations in the back, front, center of my mind for not working more on the details of this month’s soundlust, for not being focused enough to develop into writing all the cool ideas I’ve sourced within the last few weeks.

Part of me keeps reminding me to be gentle with the process, with myself, and let things unfold in their own time.

Struggling with the ups and downs of creative flow is not a new thing – not for me, not for any other writer. It’s especially disheartening when you keep coming back to that blank page, day after day, and nothing comes out. 

It’s like all of the sudden, you’re lost for words and you wonder if you’ll ever gonna make it through. You start questioning your worth, you start questioning if the path you think is your destiny is actually yours, and procrastinate everything because “you’re a fraud”.

Sounds tough, I know, but these thoughts do come to my mind from time to time. I hear they call it “imposter syndrome”. In those moments, these thoughts seem like little sabotaging motherfuckers, trying to make me doubt everything I’ve gained and worked for so far. Good grief! *rolls eyes*

But then – eventually, anyway – I remember that I do have a dream to pursue and I do love what that dream brings to my life, so I might as well try my best to push those toxic thoughts away. 

Replace them with a good ol’ self-check and much-needed reinforcement. I know what I’m made of better than anyone, right?

Rephrase the purpose and the goals over and over until they’re settled once more in my mind and in my entire system.

*

As I let that thought sink in, the chirping birds, the rustling leaves, the dancing trees gently reappear in the background, blessing this nook of inspiration, inviting me back to sleep while reassuring me that I still belong to my chosen path, just as much as that path still belongs to me. That returning to nature as often as I can will always be my canvas of exploration and healing.

I might not always feel like I’m walking through a luminous forest trail, but the markings on the way keep pointing in the same direction as the one I know deep in my heart. So until I find my feet back into this creative trekking expedition and figure out what should I do next, I’ll sit and witness the beauty around me, in this bare silence or maybe just mimicking a breath of wind on a sweet autumn day.

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