It Wants to Push Through

Following the Urge

In a conversation with another writer yesterday, I asked:
What do you long for?
What would feel good?

We were talking about how to create routines and structures in the midst of upheaval; how to remain grounded and connected to the things that matter, when so much else seems out of one’s control.

A Sense of Direction

Can you craft a structure or mission or compass—I’m not sure of the appropriate metaphor here—for what to do and how to do it, based on your answers to the above questions? What would you design for yourself? What would you set forth as your guiding questions or principles? I love talking about these things in my one on one sessions, especially if they really do lead to breakthroughs, which is to say, more happiness. More of that sense of rightness about the way daily life unfolds.

The Basics: Calm, Urge, Intellect, Craft, and Pacing

For me, I’m always trying to hold a few key things are once: a sense of calm; the procreative urge, wild as it comes; access to intellect and craft; and enough time to do the work without feeling that I’m rushing or cutting every corner. Dreamtime, right? But really, this is what I want and this is how I know what to do and not do with each little decision in my day.


Things like extended illness, family crises, break-ups, moving house, pregnancy, birth, death, or a job change can feel so destabilizing (because they are!), even for the most grounded among us.

So what do you do? Ride it out? Have a drink or two? Take a bath? Pretend it doesn’t feel awful? Hope it will be over soon? Quit everything and hide under the covers? Play hooky? Spiral into existential doubt about the worthiness of even trying to have a life on your own terms? I’ve done every one of these things and some of them work more or less—temporarily.

Impermanence Surrounds Us

The nature of being human is to cycle through the dreck but impermanence is the law of the universe so those dips always end. Out we come, on the other side: more or less in one piece. Sometimes even a little refreshed from the fight to survive.

The lesser disruption of a change in the season can also unsettle. Do you notice this? I wonder if it is especially true for those of us who are by nature or occupation, particularly attuned to the earth’s rhythms: from cold to warm, from dormancy to new growth, from dark to more daylight. From one way of living and being (at home, slow and cozy, for example) to a very different one (active, outdoors, and suddenly hustling to get the garden in.)

Feeling Transitions and Shifts in Our Bodies

My friend Nancy, an acupuncturist, explains the characteristics of this season in terms of an uprising, emergent energy that wants to break through and expand. Sounds good, maybe, but it can also feel unnerving to contend with all that life force within one’s limited human body.

I feel it. At this time of year, I am that much more apt to have a million ideas, speed up in order to do as many as possible, crave different foods, crave more in general, seek interaction with other humans, fall in love easily, and when I pause, as I’ve trained myself to do, I read this energy as a pure, sparking electric charge. Erotic. Powerful. Or said another way, this is my inherent procreative potential upwelling as the world around me does the same. Forsythia, leaf bud, green nubbins of grass. We are connected, of course.

Existing in Fullness

We all just want to exist in our full full fullness, right? Our urge to take our full form is so POWERFUL. 

So how do we do that? How do you?

When I feel wobbly or impatient or overwhelmed, or any way, really, I know and trust that I will feel best when I simply begin by attending to the shape of my morning, which means reading at least one poem before I do anything else. No phones. No early appointments. No rushing. Having done so, I can count on my appetite and imagination to move me forward in a constructive way. After a few poems—I’m reading Jenny George’s remarkable debut collection, The Dream of Reason—I almost always feel like writing, and when I’m doing that, I feel most myself, regardless of what appears on the page or in the rest of my day. Any of us can choose this, even if all we have is 15 minutes of our own.

A Way to Work

I’m super excited to bring all of this spring energy to Works in Progress, my online boot camp for poets who want to finish (and perhaps publish) their poems. We begin Friday and you can participate from anywhere in the world, as long as you access to the internet. I’ve crafted this workshop (we will work!) as a slow but steady process that will yield you the satisfaction of having made some things you can feel proud of by the beginning of May. For real. You can still join us and I hope you will. 

You can find out more information, and register on the brand new Poetry Forge website.

Holly Wren Spaulding reading a book about John Cage.

poetry matters. join the conversation.

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poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community