I am the Universe

Today is an I am the Universe day.

I woke to a perfect blue-gold morning. It peaked around the sequoias in my yard to slip through the bedroom window. Last night I stayed up late, riding a strange rush of energy that allowed me to finally cross a few task off my to-do list. But in spite of the late hours, I woke feeling energized for the first time in days.

The view out my window

The view out my window

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed. So what else is new, right? My eyes are always bigger than my stomach when it comes to what I think I can devour in any given day. But during landscaping season, the feeling is particularly pronounced, because the nature of the work is so physically draining. And when I’m tired, my brain stops working. I can keep on shoveling compost like the Energizer bunny, but don’t expect me to be able to design a drip system. Writing, naturally, is completely out. Basic words elude me. The idea of stringing several thoughts together is enough to make me whine like a sleep-deprived two-year-old. Hence, I tend to do my landscaping in the summer and my writing in the winter. But this year I’ve been attempting to do it all.

Screenwriter/playwright Cynthia Whitcomb talks about the Cycle of Creativity. In it she describes three parts. Brahma is the lightening strike of inspiration that sparks your story ideas. Vishnu is the period of work, when your inspiration drives you to complete your goals. Shiva is the time of rest, of doing nothing. In America we value Brahma and Vishnu, but tend to negate Shiva. Yet we need this time of stillness to recharge our batteries so we can get that spark of inspiration for the next cycle.

In my own life, I’ve found that summer is my Shiva. Sure, I’m doing physical labor, but I’m giving my mind a break. For me, writing is a Yin experience. It’s almost meditative. I can force myself to do it on the fly, but it’s difficult, unpleasant, and generally uninspired. My landscaping, on the other hand, is very Yang. It’s a welcome relief after a winter spent expending mental energy. I’ve been beating myself up for not being able (or willing) to come home from a day of slinging compost to crank out a chapter. But my friend Barb told me yesterday that it’s perfectly okay for me to write in the winter and landscape in the summer. That’s my cycle.

So what exactly is an I am the Universe day? Several years ago I read a book by children’s author Barbara Corcoran titled I am the Universe. In it, the protagonist’s 8-year-old brother, who’s a genius, proclaims that he is the universe, and that everyone else is, too. That idea really resonated with me. I liked the thought that we are all part of everything, and everything is part of us. How empowering. How reassuring. How grounding.

Another perfect blue-gold day

Another perfect blue-gold day

Back when I was racing stock cars and would be lined up before my event—heart rate rivaling the RPMs of the car’s engine—I’d focus on the horizon and chant to myself, I am the universe. It always calmed me. But the phrase isn’t just a meditative mantra. It’s also a song of celebration, an expression of gratitude. I often find myself caught up in the splendor of a particularly stunning sunny day, feeling that kid-like, Christmas-morning delight over being granted yet another summer. And on days like this, those words come whispering back, I am the universe.  Guess what? You are, too.

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10 Responses to I am the Universe

  1. Casey says:

    I love how meaningful and encouraging your posts tend to be, Lisa. What a beautiful view you have, inside and out! Those trees look gorgeous!


  2. Rose Lefebvre says:

    We each are our own universe and together we make a wonderful cosmos!!!! You are such a creative writer! I enjoy your blog.


  3. Katy Skinner says:

    Very introspective of you. I’d been wondering when we’d get another blog from Lisa.

    The weather has been so kick-ass for this part of the country.


  4. Alice Lynn says:

    The joy of life blossoming in summer sunshine; the season that invites us to participate and revel in nature’s bounty. Thanks for reminding me.


  5. shelli says:

    yay! you are back!


  6. Great post. Cynthia is right about our culture not valuing Shiva. Somehow our worth has become linked to what and how much we produce. We look up to writers who produce a book a year (or more!) and berate ourselves for not managing to do the same.

    “I am the universe.” A very cool reminder of what the real bottom line is.


  7. Never insist for anything. Any insistence becomes a bondage. It is not something that you can control.


  8. Roxie says:

    Lovely post. Thanks for sharing! Don’t push the river. It flows by itself. Just ride the current.


  9. Barb says:

    Yeah, I often forget that we are the universe. Each of us has a part to share and take from the whole. Great post. And spin-your-eye-in-their sockets pictures. Thanks.


  10. Barb says:

    Knock Knock
    Who’s there?
    You’re Blog
    You’re Blog who?
    You Blog who is frozen on The Universe and wants to know what’s going on in your World.


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