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Let It Be Great

My body is still stiff and sore from the car accident I was in recently. I can’t turn my neck all the way and it hurts when something as lightweight as my purse presses against my trapezius. Because all human beings have an inherent negativity bias, it would be easy for me to focus on the bad instead of the good, the terrible instead of the great.

I do think it’s important to let things be terrible without trying to fix, change, or solve them, but a personal practice for me is also seeing where things are great. Even within my own body, there are places that are peaceful, that are at ease. It’s part of the reason I love my Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor so much. With traditional chiropractors, you tell them, “My neck hurts,” and they go to that pain point to crack your neck and put it back into alignment so the pain stops. Network Spinal Analysis chiropractors, however, do something different.

They briefly and very gently touch a point on your body that’s peaceful. They go to the place of ease rather than pain. They seek to emphasize peace and grounding so that your own body amplifies that energy and heals itself. For instance, they may touch a point on my sacrum and doing so causes a deep breath that sends energy and movement to a point on my neck that hurts. Both exist within my body. I can choose to engage in “all or nothing” thinking and say, “I’m in pain today,” or I can say, “Parts of me are in pain today and other parts feel fine.”

spiritual writing

This picture is dark AND light. It’s both at the same time. Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Similarly, with my novel, when I think of the piece overall, I’m quick to tell you it’s terrible, complete garbage. Except, that’s not the full picture. Parts of the novel are terrible and need to be reworked, absolutely. But there are also parts that are great. There are lines that make me laugh like this one, “After exhausting the safe topics, like complaining about work, the weather, and other news events, the table would inevitably fall silent and still like the Bay Area during Burning Man week.”

I’ve read that line numerous times, but it still makes me chuckle. So no, the novel isn’t absolutely terrible. It has some gems within it. Why don’t I focus on that?

The reality is there will always be an invitation to the fear and negativity party, but I can choose to decline. I can choose to say, “I won’t be attending.” Furthermore, I can center myself by aligning with a higher power. My spiritual teacher says over and over again if a person takes shelter in the Supreme, they need not be afraid of anything in this world. That the divine is “more courageous than the most courageous, and braver than the bravest. Those who take shelter in [the divine] are therefore bound to acquire these qualities: courage, bravery, chivalry, and so on. Once endowed with such qualities, what is there to fear?”

That’s the perspective I want to live from and that means for today, I’m choosing to view the world as mostly safe, people as mostly good, and my body as mostly fine. In other words, I’m letting things be great.

I dream of a world where we acknowledge not only the terrible things, but also the great things. A world where we understand even within our own bodies some parts may hurt while others are fine. A world where we understand rarely are things all or nothing, black or white, instead they’re much more complicated. A world where we let things be great.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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Let It Be Terrible

Right now I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which means I’m aiming to write 50,000 words in a month. For the uninitiated, that’s a novel the length of The Great Gatsby. It’s approximately 75 pages single spaced in a word processing document. I’m pretty sure this new novel I’m working on is the worst piece of writing in the known universe, but I’m pressing forward.

The advice for those writing during NaNoWriMo is to tame your inner editor. Instead of hitting the “delete” key when you think something sounds awful, just keep putting words on the page. Let the writing be bad. There’s something liberating in indulging in that mentality. To revel in it. To acknowledge, “I know this can be said better but I don’t care.”

As someone with a history of perfectionism, it’s difficult for me to stop judging end results, but that’s what I’m encouraging myself to do right now. I’m acknowledging the new novel is bad, that it will likely change a lot before I’m finished, but I’m letting that be OK. I’m not nitpicking myself in the moment and instead giving myself freedom to relax, to explore, to try new things on the page. It’s fun!


Some things will cause you to shake your head they’re so bad. Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I notice this principle, “Let it be terrible,” applies not only to creative projects, but also to the physical body (sometimes). Headline, I’m fine, but on Saturday night I was in a car accident. While driving through an intersection, a car ran a red light and hit the driver’s side of my friend’s car. We swerved to the right and the impact jostled me so I banged up my elbow and knees against the console very, very minorly. It’s my right shoulder blade that hurts this morning from the whiplash.

I took out a tennis ball and massaged the shoulder blade but it still hurts. I don’t think anything is dislocated; it just hurts. Because I was in a car accident. And instead of rushing to fix it, change it, solve it, I said to the pain, “I’m here. I’m listening, body.” I’m letting the pain be here, I’m letting things be terrible because sometimes that’s all we can do. The body heals on its own timeframe and that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong.

It reminds me of this NY Times article I read a few years ago where an American woman had a hysterectomy in Germany. When she asked about painkillers post-surgery, her medical team said she’d be given ibuprofen and that’s it. When she talked to one of her doctors about it, he said, “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest.”

It confounded her, but it turned out her doctors were right. She didn’t need painkillers – she needed rest and patience. She let things be terrible, she let her body feel terrible, and that was her wisest course of action. For this month I, too, am letting things be terrible in more ways than I anticipated, and that perhaps is a greater accomplishment than writing the worst novel the world has ever seen in the course of 30 days.

I dream of a world where we let things be terrible sometimes. A world where we let our creativity flow without any hindrance. A world where we check our self-editors at the door. A world where we let ourselves feel pain when it arises because it provides us with important information to guide our lives and direct our attention.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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