I thought many things about that incredible, incredibly disappointing comics series, but I will admit that J. Michael Straczynski succeeded on one level: His story's permanently rooted in my memory. Specifically, there's an issue (#16), which introduced me to a concept I don't honor nearly so much as I should.
In this issue, the series' ostensible hero -- nicknamed Poet and possessing a ponytail, which tells you just about everything you need to know right there -- is meeting up with a fellow super-powered human, Laurel. His power is ... convenient? Hers is telekinesis with very tiny objects, and she's used it to become an assasin. After all, the carotid artery is very tiny.
Laurel is sick of being a dealer of death, sick of conflict, sick of herself. And -- as happens frequently in this series run -- the poor woman needs a man to help put her head on straight. Scratch that. She needs Poet to tell her what's what.
In this case, he says something profound and useful, something J. Michael Straczynski has reused in interviews. Poet tells Laurel, "Selah. It means, literally, 'pause and consider.'" Selah. Create a space in the flow of your attention. Sink into it and listen to the self that exists in the privacy of your thoughts.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were "getting away" for the night, heading north to Bodega Bay. We were supposed to be relaxing; the trip was supposed to be restorative. Except ... the grind we were getting away from did not let us slip loose of its teeth until we stepped in the car. The next day, as we hiked on the edge of the Pacific, we had to pull out smartphones to confirm that preschool dropoff went okay and coworkers could make their deadlines without waiting on something they needed from us. And we talked a lot about the creative, idiosyncratic writing projects we want to do but can never seem to find the time to start.
On the drive home, I said, "Our lives are too full of things that we don't want to be doing. Where do we start paring away? Where do we make the space to live?"
Neither one of us had any constructive or practical suggestions.
I've been chewing on that question since. I recalled a Bloom County cartoon, where a character (who was ancient the first time I read it and impossibly young now) says, "Try to grasp this. Enjoying life should be dipping toes in a country stream ... counting the stars ... doing cartwheels in the park, celebrating the joy of life by breathing in deep. It's bliss!"
I've also been swimming a hard 2250 yards in the mornings before getting ready for work, paying a lot of attention to how I breathe, and noticing how hard it is to breathe deeply unless you intentionally create a rhythm for doing so.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. I do not plan on giving anything up. Instead, I plan on practicing my own Selah.
I'm too much in my own way with my writing lately, too willing to indulge in the deplorable practice of ego-driven perfectionism and its resultant procrastination. There hasn't been a lot of pausing to consider -- merely a lot of excuses cluttering up the space where one would think, listen to one's own thoughts, consider what one has heard.
For the next forty days, until Easter, I'll be clawing out 35 minutes a day to breathe deeply (breathing bliss?), pause and consider, follow a thought ... then push "submit" on the Typepad entry page. I am committing to pausing, considering, then getting out of my own way.