Finding my voice, again

Day 23: Into the Fire, Sun Writers Retreat at Esalen


Restless sleep, got up at 5am and headed down to the baths.  Saw Sy writing in the dining room.  He never sleeps. 

Something magical about soaking in the early morning as the first light of dawn creeps over the bluffs down the coast, I guess the direction is southeast.  In Oregon, looking left down the coast meant south.  But the California coast sweeps ever eastward, eventually facing mostly south.  I’m looking forward to that, seeing all that sun in San Diego.

Hot, then cold, then hot, then cold.  Hydrotherapy. Somewhat dizzying, I love the contrasts, tingling skin, almost like pin pricks in the hot bath, then the cold refreshing, forcing all the heat inward. Euphoria sets in. Also fatigue.

So tired, I ended up taking a nap and sleeping through the first workshop session.  So I went back to the baths, this time lay in the sun.  Felt so good, after the long rides in the rain and fog.  I know I’m supposed to fear melanoma, but I take sun in small doses. And something is going to kill me eventually anyway.

Then I went to a session on “Readers Write” with Tim. I wrote to the topics of “Heirlooms” and “Confessions”, listened to other people reading, but didn’t want to share.  I wrote personal stories, and felt I wasn’t ready to reveal to this group.

Next a session with Frances, on putting voice to ink. An interesting exercise: write five experiences of being annoyed or irritated, then look for what was common.  Like a gut punch, this one hit home. I won’t detail the list, but the common thread was me: my lack of self love. From that place, all my irritations, annoyance, depression, failures arise.  I know, duh.  I should know this.  I do know this. But sometimes it takes a workshop to kick me into awareness.  But again, I didn’t feel like reading my work.

Another soak before dinner, feeling the heat, chilling back down.  A stunning sunset, at 6:20pm.  Days are ever shorter, as the earth tips away from the sun. The colors were incredible, trees casting dark silhouettes against the blues, yellow, orange, red. Ribbon of gold stretching from us to the horizon. Sy said a friend had told him as the sun sets here, it rises on Tibet. Wondered if true.  I said it must be. We are all connected, drawing life from the sun.

Then I entered the intense buzz and chatter of the dining room, filled with excited and nervous and ordinary folks sharing, risking, listening. How to engage, how to enter conversation.  I sat down. Broke through the wall. Mostly listening, found my voice and shared some of my story. Sat with Frances and a couple of the other teachers, made a connection with the workshop, teasing, joking. Humor helps break the ice, the chill of anxiety.  Warm soup and tea also.

Last a session with Allison on writing “Beyond the Erotic”, seeking to express the erotic in non traditional terms. Here was a challenge, given my shyness and questioning this summer, but in fact my whole life as an adult, as a sexual person. I wrote honestly, and chose to share. There was a level of intimacy expressed by others, and I felt safe and confident as I read.

Then off to bed, exhausted from a long day of physical and emotional striving. I slept well, dreams came easily. New stories arising. New challenges tomorrow. I will be ready.

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