experience>pan and paper

Moving through the editing process of work written over two years ago is taxing. Every week 5000 words to my editor and every week processing her requested revisions. She has a lovely, self-proclaimed habit of encouraging authors with a seemingly innocuous three-word phrase: expand or delete.

It is a cue meant to direct the author into either further developing important themes or eliminating that which distracts from the truth of the story.

Since I spend so much of my time each week responding to the call to expand or delete, the philosophy has seeped into my cells. Upon reflection in meditation, it occurred to me that this is the same process I have been attempting in my life: expand or delete.

Whatever the source of deeply recognizing my truth, focusing only on fulfillment, pleasure, and love is a constant restlessness in me. For a stretch I was examining the why. Why this renewed passion for truthtelling? That answer seemed crystal clear.

Stark awareness of mortality, truly feeling that in every moment, demolishes any false filters. Vanity, scarcity, censoring, posturing, striving, materialism, et alii, they all go away. Understanding the gift of vulnerability I banished these thieves of energy. Or so I thought.

The last six weeks my familiar friend Insomnia came around for another visit. My response, learned after so much futile angst during the last go around, is to meditate or write. So much time spent reflecting can create peace and ease. I found I have been experiencing the opposite with resistance and that feeling of stuckness. No flow at all. When I did sleep, my subconscious pummeled me with disturbing dreams.

I’ve always appreciated the language of dreams despite feeling like wisdom they were there to impart was lost in translation for me. Either I have gotten more astute at interpreting for myself or my subconscious has become direct and obvious with the messages.

These dark dreams have been vivid images of dams bursting, flash floods, along with other scenes of humans bleeding from stab wounds or from precise cuts in order to be bled. And in all of these dreams the release of water immediately produces in its wake fields of flowers and trees full of ripe fruit. The bleeding characters in my dreams become more animated and energetic the more they bleed.

It seems I need to understand that stimulating flow can be painful, that it may feel as though we are purging something necessary, something that we are not willing to part with just yet.

As I colluded my dream visions with the concept of expand or delete, the particular alchemy was rich. I have done the easy parts of this transformation. I have embraced the recognition that every moment is precious, yet I still find myself distracted by experiences I cognitively understand are not worthy of my time. The emotional familiarity of the habit patterns is seductive. Despite the fact I know I am realigning my priorities, I haven’t been willing to purge the obsolete emotional habit patterns.

Expand or delete is more than just adding words or cutting sections from a manuscript. Those thoughts you are adding are steeped in high emotion sourced from your truth. Those ideas you are deleting were your darlings at one time. It can hurt to make the changes even when you know the creation will be that much more brilliant because of the process.

The living of expand or delete carries even higher stakes. Choosing the direction of expansion feels blissful, yet comes with the need for energy, discipline, and trust. And in order to make room for this continued evolution in life purpose, you have to let some things go. Many of those experiences have been a treasured part of your evolution. When they no longer serve you as you expand, these experiences create dissonance for you. Whether you find yourself hurt and disillusioned or simply at a place where you must choose to move on, the parting of ways still hurts.

So here I exist in all my vulnerability knowing cognitively that the enthusiasm I have to expand into my purpose and delete that which holds me stagnant is going to take more than just a mental decision. It is going to take the wholehearted investment of emotional resources and only I can decide when I am ready to do the emotionally challenging things.

When I take the mindful moments to acknowledge my truth, expanding or deleting feels powerful. I feel energized in using my power to make the choices that are right for me. The more I own my power and choices, the more I catalyze the flow. Time for some purging. Time to make room for all the visions in my mind’s eye. I’m ready even when it hurts, since the more difficult the challenge the more fulfilling it is to conquer.