Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 16,317: Book Fairy Tale

Ever wake up and know, in a juicy, deep down kind of way, exactly what you are supposed to do that day? It’s so exciting to feel that wave of inspiration start to build and then realize that you are completely powerless against the force of it. So you surrender, ecstatically, and let whatever wants to unfold lay itself before you. You willingly and gratefully obey.

The package arrived in March when winter still had this area and my attitude in its icy grip. Raising my hand to be picked as a Book Fairy sure seemed like a great idea months before, but now that it was time to do the deed I doubted that the weather and I were up for the challenge. I tangled myself up in infinite possibilities. Indoors or out? Weekday or weekend? Bustling location or isolation? It didn't take long to work myself into a suffocating lather of perfectionism.

Outdoors. It felt to me like the package must be left outdoors. But then there was the matter of the weather and whether it would cooperate. I wouldn't risk the book getting ruined due to my poor planning. I selected the ideal spot in my mind's eye and watched the forecast for a window of opportunity that, based upon impossibly strict criteria, could never come to pass. Foiled. Week after week, the package sat. I felt like a fairy failure.

Christine, bless her heart, was so patient. More so than I was with myself. Instead of crafting a fun adventure, I was making mountains of molehills. There is nothing that disappoints me more than disappointing someone else. And yet I couldn’t muster the courage to move beyond procrastination and just leave it somewhere, anywhere. I wouldn’t let go of perfect. I couldn’t move beyond the worry of what-ifs.

Until that day. THE day. Suddenly, I knew exactly where it needed to be left, which wasn’t even on my short list of potential locations. And I knew that it absolutely had to be left there that morning and no later. Julia Cameron calls these marching orders and I have to say that there is no better description. Do it. Do it now. Do not deviate from the plan.

So I grabbed the package, my camera and keys and made my way out Roundbottom Road to the labyrinth at the Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford. This special place may be a 20 minute drive from my home but may as well be a world away. This is where I go when I need to press reset. I take my troubles to the river that meanders beside it. I walk the path inward. I walk the path back out. I am always better for having taken the journey. The labyrinth is always on.

Beyond the busyness of birds, it was so quiet and still. The sun would push the clouds aside to shine through the leaves of the sycamore trees that give the labyrinth shelter. I removed my shoes and began to wind my way to the center, as I have done countless times before. I gently placed the package in the center, a bit giddy in the process, and slowly made my way back out, following the same path that brought me inside. Alone and yet not alone.

What I realized on this particular visit is that what had been keeping me from rising to the occasion and what finally brought me to and through it was a matter of trust. I can’t control the weather nor can I control what happens to everything all of the time. Perfectionism is a joy killer. I need to make peace with what is my responsibility ... and what isn’t. This applies not only to Book Fairy business but all areas of my life.

Sometimes on this journey we are called upon to be a bridge ... to take care of one small facet of a larger project. And as we take gentle care of the task at hand, to the best of our ability, we need to trust that all of the variables are being handled on our behalf. Something much bigger than me let me know precisely where that book needed to go and when it needed to be there. Although I wasn’t able to hang around to see who eventually found it, I know in my heart that it was discovered by the right person at the right time and in the right way. They traveled the same journey to the center of the labyrinth that I took to leave it for them to receive.

And I trust that, right now, it is in very good hands.


Beth said...

Julie! I love this and I knew that this is where you would leave it (I love that I knew that, too!). Reminds me that the labyrinth is on my list of things to go to on my off days. Thank You : ) I hope we learn who has the book now.

amelia said...

I love your comment, perfectionism is a joy kill- truer words have never been spoken! Accepting what is and is not my responsibility is an every day task for me. I even sense that if others anticipate that I may take responsibility for something, they will step back and allow me, thus reinforcing the crazy cycle. I love this idea and am off to read more on it. I hope you are well :-)

Monkey Mind said...

What a great post! I can so empathize with your tangle of emotion. I'm a perfectionist also and so little gets done because I just freeze up. Thank you for mentioning the marching orders - I had forgotten all about them. I hear them often and ignore them almost as much.

You did the most perfect, wonderful thing with that book. Cheers!

Heather Stanworth said...

AMAZING post!!! Thank you!

Sharon Gunn McMahon said...

Awesome! Totally awesome!! I just love it and now I have a name to put with that thing that happens - "marching orders" - such a perfect description!!

I also love that your feet are in the picture - I have the same feet - short and wide!! A friend of mine has them too - she calls them duck feet... I know, off the point, but so cute.

Thank you for your fairy tale!

Gillian said...

I'm goosebumpy.
That lucky labyrinth walker.

Life is sweet.

Good drop.