What kind of animal are you?

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Thanks to Tom Hemeryk and freeimages.com for the (way too fitting) image

I’m currently working through Julia Cameron’s “self-help” book for artists entitled, nobly, “Walking in This World” and she has some really great points on transformation and identity (and the crisis of change both of those bring.)

Her main point here is that it’s not a matter of who you are, but who you are changing into. She uses the analogy of an old story about three blind men describing an elephant – one says it felt like a brick walk, the other mentions a trunk and a third mentions the sheer presence, if I’m remembering at all correctly (I’m probably not.)

Anyways, she goes through this exercise to demonstrate a point: we are all a portion of what we really are; that we as artists forget our largeness, forget the sum of our parts. We tend to just remember our parts, like an actor reads up on his “role” as a writer, painter, or composer.

She goes on to explain that an elephant is not just a wall of grey, nor just a trunk. And neither are we – we are a sum of all of those things too, not just the things or the roles that others, including our friends, define us as. That perhaps, we could be a writer-composer. A this AND a that.

So, as things go, I spent half of today chasing my tail after a bad night of sleep and wondering why in the world I couldn’t “get it together” all the while, simmering in the background, wondering what kind of animal I am nowadays. My brain would whirl around these questions and those naggy little thoughts like Why am I not gliding through the to-do list? What’s wrong with me that I can’t get to the kitchen immediately after groceries? Why, why, why? Why am I so slow? Am I depressed?

As you can see, it’s a wild ride in my head.

And of course, with all of this I’ve learned about my particular brand of crazy, I’m sort of prepared for it. Most days, when I’m not so sleep-deprived, on better days, that is. But the answers in short are: I’m tired. I’m older than I used to be. I have a small one with me at all times, and goodness how I love a clean and well-run house, I love the people in them more. So I chose people first, usually.

And the groceries were bought and put away, lunches made, naps had and stories read, so all in all, I’ve done an okay job. But the mind – the monkey mind that is mine won’t let me slow down nor give myself grace. And is seemingly always on Depression-Watch, which clearly is a very narrow definition of depression, in that, if you’re not being productive, you’re depressed.

Oh, me. It’s funny when I remember to recognize the antics my brain plays with me.

And halfway through my workout this afternoon (that should have been this early morning before the kids woke up, my mind reminded me) it dawned on me what kind of animal I am:

A dog in a cone of shame desperately trying to scratch it’s wound.

I’m exactly that poor meme of a dog that keeps trying to scratch its wounds while wearing the cone of shame.

Heaven help me: I’m the cone of shame dog.

It’s sad to say at this point, but I share it because at this point in my life it’s true, and second, maybe you can laugh as maybe you can relate.

Yes, I would like to be an elegant horse or perhaps even a cat, maybe an elephant even, with all that commanding presence.

But in this journey of becoming more me, and hopefully a little more graceful with myself, I’m learning that cone of shame dog unfortunately fits for right now.


And maybe one day, I’ll let that wound go, let it heal. And maybe then, I’ll can just simply be a dog. Or my own sort of animal altogether.

Here’s to hoping.

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