“A New Beginning” – isn’t that a Star Wars movie? Episode 8.5 or something. The one where a sub-character gets caught up in a Big Work Deadline and puts a lot of other life stuff, including writing, on the back burner – sometimes completely off the stove – to focus. Not focus, exactly, but save her energy and limited brain capacity and emotional investment to make sure the Big Work Deadline is met and goes well. Spoiler alert: she succeeds, but at what cost? She hasn’t been running or going outside as much; her left leg – glute, piriformis, psoas, hamstring – feels possessed by a demon; she has unanswered text messages and emails; she hasn’t seen friends nearly enough; she feels distant from her husband and like the only thing they have to talk about is the arduous training program they’re following for their anxious dog, which is absolutely no one’s favorite subject, least of all the dog; her journal is collecting dust and she doesn’t even know where her pen is.
But the movie doesn’t end there. It’s the story of a new beginning, not a grant submission. The Big Work Deadline is the inciting event, not the climax. Because after the grant goes in, she goes to a magical town in the mountains where church bells ring all day, where twilight catches the painted walls and bricks and turns them soft and mysterious, where locals in feathered costumes dance down the cobblestone streets, where the sunset tastes like mezcal and jicama tacos.
Where sixteen women spend a week together in a sacred space, ostensibly a space for writing, but the writing manifests so much more. Grief, joy, uncertainty, power. Laughter and tears – so many tears – and laughter again. We hold each other up as we explore ourselves through our words, the words that pour out each morning and flavor the meals shared at night. Together we play: in the hot springs, on a rooftop taking portraits of each other against coral walls overlooking the town, in a secret garden dyeing bags with cochineal and cempasúchil, in a bright room learning to dance cumbia.
Where she decides that putting her life on hold in the name of a deadline is not the person she wants to be. Where she finds her pen and her voice and her feelings again. Where she can decide to, once again for perhaps the millionth time in her life, begin again – again – with living her days in honor of herself. Where she can acknowledge the guilt and doubt and do it, anyway.
Join the magic, either in distant lands or in the comfort of your home, with Laurie Wagner: https://27powers.org/
Find the wonder and joy with Andrea Scher: https://www.andreascher.com/
This makes me want to go to San Miguel de Allende!