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Modern Living

The morning pages

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

Last Saturday I began my writing classes — seven people from all walks of life, mostly women getting together for the first time. We had fun.

 At this first class I mentioned that many years ago, when I was still working, I collected many books.  One was Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  It was a very valuable book in that it taught me to do Morning Pages.

 First Julia Cameron says you must have a place in your home that you can call your own.  It can be a small table in a corner or your side of the bed.  The important thing is that you think about it as your very own space where you go every day to write your Morning Pages.

 Morning Pages means sitting down and writing around three pages every morning.  All you do is get a notebook.  It doesn’t have to be an uppity notebook.  Just  one that you can write on, even your children’s old notebooks that have pages leftover.  Write in those blank pages.  You don’t need to have a topic either. Write about anything that occurs to you that morning. You don’t have to be a good writer either because these pages are for no one but you.

 I began my Morning Pages many years ago. So many in fact that I have a whole pile of notebooks full of them. Some have been water damaged. I think I must have thrown away many over the years. Then I stopped, I don’t remember why. Maybe because I had an operation and the cycle was broken. Or maybe because I got tired.  Maybe I got bored. That’s one of my flaws, I get bored easily. But anyway, I stopped.  This year I decided to resume my earlier habits. Every morning I read my Simple Abundance book, which still seems wise to me even after all these years and I do my Morning Pages.

 It’s a good idea. You open your notebook and write about something that you enjoyed or something that has hurt you. Just write on and on. Sometimes you write  for days and then suddenly you get an insight, which makes you understand yourself better.

 For example, I got very hurt recently. Never mind why because while I’m willing to write about it in all its detail the other person will hate me even more. So enough to say that I got really hurt. That’s when I tend to recoil into myself. Recoil. That’s the word I used in describing my behavior, which meant I retreated into my room and stayed there, deliberately not mixing with the rest of the household. In other words I chose to be alone.

But the use of the word “recoil” put the image of a big grey snake, like a cobra, in my mind.  I couldn’t get it out.  I got the image of a cobra coiled under my bed whose eyes were wandering.

Now I know you do not see a snake’s eyes wandering because they are one solid color but my snake had wandering eyes. Then I saw it:  When I am hurt, I behave like a snake.  I recoil  wondering where this is all going, how will it get fixed, when will it get fixed, do I need to fix it myself, which is the last thing in the world I want to do. That is clear to me. Apology is the last thing I want to do because this time I made no errors except being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 Then I saw my cobra striking at someone’s neck. Omigod, that is my typical behavior. If you wrong me, seriously one day I will strike back at a place where it will also truly hurt you. What can I do? I’m a person with faults. And that is one of my greatest faults. It isn’t obvious because I can excuse small hurts. They slide like water down a snake’s back (ha ha I think that’s funny) but if you seriously hurt me, over time, this is crucial because it takes time, I will have my revenge. And you know what they say about revenge. Revenge is best served cold.

 I don’t know why I’m like that. I have only seen myself that way now. Maybe it’s because I’m a Leo with a Scorpio streak. I don’t know. But at least now I know and maybe now I can do something about it.  Maybe now my cobra can stop striking.

The important thing is that I know it now. I would not have known it if not for the Morning Pages. So you see you don’t have to take my classes for insights. You can try the Morning Pages.

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