I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
Several days in New Mexico, a surreal time spent with three incredible friends. The stark landscape is still with me, the oranges and yellows, muted reds, the blue of the sky.
Unexpectedly, what I've come away with, besides the memory of landscape, of long talks and laughter, wine and extraordinary meals, is more courage. And that may be the women I was with influencing me, their courage seeping into my bones.
Last night I forced myself to write. And then again this morning. What has always been a joy, what has flowed naturally, became dammed behind a life of pragmatism and duty. I had become robotic in my daily living, doing what was necessary, but not allowing myself the one thing I love: writing.
No matter how I got to that place, or how any of us gets there, this is not about self-blame, the point is that I wrote something. Not brilliant, maybe not even publishable, and yet there were a couple of turns within the poem that moved me, that brought me that familiar feeling of having come home.
Touring Georgia's O'Keeffe's territory, I was struck by my own singularity, how it must have felt for her to live in such an unforgiving setting. There is no room for posturing, no place for ego to enlarge when you're surrounded by striated mountains and the howl of coyotes.
To all of you poets and writers who are stuck, my advice is to write anyway. Write bad poetry. Lousy memoir. Write prose that you wouldn't read to your dog. But write. Like most things in life, we learn by doing, we improve by repetition, and we move into the flow not by thinking about it, but by doing it.
If you're short on courage, borrow a little of mine, but keep it just long enough until you discover your own. Look to the mountains, lean into the sky.