I have to admit it! I have been struggling with finishing my second book.
It’s been six years now. The book needs to get done. But I find myself procrastinating, dealing with emails, checking on the presidential polls, going down to the garden to harvest our bumper crop of string beans when I should stay focused on the next page.
It’s nearly October. In between writing stints on the chapter I’m currently tackling, I return to the granite quarry for one last swim before late summer turns to fall. Frogs, minnows, chickadees, dragonflies, and a single kingfisher greet me as I approach.
A branch of crimson maple leaves. A ripple across the pond and then …
… the hush and the long slow breath of peace.
As I stand for a moment at the water’s edge, what amazes me most is that it’s all still here. In the rush, the noise, the metallic chatter of the human world, there is still the constant presence of the Earth, still this abiding devotion to the nourishing of life.
The presence I feel when I arrive at the quarry is what the ancient Chinese recognized as the spirit of the Earth. They called this spirit yi – intention. The character is a picture of a sound or musical note above the picture for the heart.
Yi is the miraculous capacity of the Earth to produce a harvest, to bring the seed to fruition year after year. It is the embodiment of spirit. And it is what endows us with the ability to sing the songs of our hearts out into the world, to stay with a project until it is done, no matter how tedious, how challenging, how long it takes. At the end of the day, yi is the muscle power we need to make our dreams real.
Between vision and action, inspiration and product, possible and manifest, there is a gap. The bridge across that gap is yi.
But that gap can be very wide, very shadowy, and very frightening.
As I sit here at the quarry listening to the wind, I feel the chill of my fears and doubts shiver up my spine. The book has gotten way too long and much too complicated. And besides that, it’s too feminine, too much feeling. I’m not enough of a scholar. Anyway, nobody cares about books anymore. Who has time to read?
Beneath me I feel the soft support of the mossy ground. Despite my fears and resistances, this place is still here, still nurturing the life in me. The patient, accepting tenacity of the Earth.
As I lean back into the embrace of this place, I come to realize that this oscillation between my creativity and my resistance is part of the process. In fact, if I look carefully, I see it’s a kind of law: the better and newer that idea you have or the voice you want to share with the world, the more the negative voices and doubts will taunt you.
I pack my knapsack, jump back on my bike, pedal home to my desk. But now, I have a friend to support me. Like weight, like gravity, the humble spirit of the Earth accompanies me as I face my demons and get back to writing.
I love hearing from our readers. How do you nourish your yi spirit? Comment here or join our conversation at our Alchemical Healing Global Community Facebook Group.