Psychic Desert

Psychic Desert

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If you consider yourself a writer or a creator, there have probably been times when you forced yourself to create. I do, and I have.

Even though I am filling up my cup in terms of work, I want to keep finding the words to communicate what goes on in the depths of my being.

I imagine there are people who quietly beg me not to humiliate myself with my writing, but for every one of them, there is someone else who deliciously looks forward to it…

How much of her truth would she dare to tell?

That sort of thing. It’s challenging, because I have to consistently ignore the part of me that wants to censor myself. I didn’t put that there, though. Society did, and it’s easy to get stuck there. Getting stuck is not so much about “writer’s block” as it is about making a commitment to the discipline of writing. To be a writer, I must write. It can feel like trying to squeeze water out of a rock or searching for an oasis in the desert.

When the water comes, though, it’s magic. I think that’s why I do it. Or, I’m just thirsty. Either way, it’s about desire.


“A woman’s psyche may have found its way to the desert out of resonance, or because of past cruelties or because she was not allowed a larger life above ground. So often, a woman feels then that she lives in an empty place where there is maybe just one cactus with one brilliant red flower on it, and then in every direction, 500 miles of nothing. But for the woman who will go 501 miles, there is something more. A small brave house. An old one. She has been waiting for you.”

—Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés

My inner wild woman is not crazy. She’s patient and intentional with a sense of urgency. So I ask myself, “If wild is patient, intentional, and urgent, then what is crazy?”

If you get to see a little of my crazy side, I think it represents the area of my dualistic being where mind and body blend from one to the other. The craziness comes from my body, not my mind. No one gets to see “the crazy” until it bubbles up into my mind and prompts me to do things I’ve only fantasized about!

Those are good stories…real and true.

The more I observe the natural world, the more I understand my primal urges—what is wild and good and what is crazy and not good. We all have this within us whether we admit it or not. Society would have us ignore it or deny it, but I no longer see the harm in seeking to understand it.

It’s important to pay attention to what captivates us when we experience our wild selves. What does it make us want to do? Who does it make us think of? Where do we think of going?


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“Some women don’t want to be in the psychic desert. They hate the frailty, the spareness of it. They keep trying to crank a rusty jalopy and bump their way down the road to a fantasized shining city of the psyche. But they are disappointed, for the lush and the wild is not there. It is in the spirit world, that world between the worlds, Río Abajo Río, that river beneath the river.”

—Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés

We have to be in the desert and know it intimately—we have to know ourselves intimately—before we can get out of the desert. Every time I sit down to write without knowing what I want to say, but still with a sense of desire and intent, it feels a little like being lost in the desert. And when the words come like a torrent of water, I start to find my way through. The fantasy is that we would only have to do this work once, but the reality is that we might have to do this work every time.


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I master myself to bring peace to my tasks.

Reading Women Who Run with the Wolves is good for getting me back on track. There is so much busyness that I must constantly crop out of my life so I can get back to the stillness where I want to learn about my truest nature and what makes me who I really am.

“Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you find. It is the only work we have to do.”

—Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés

There are layers of work. And the work we have to do is what nourishes us to be able get up and thrive every day. If we were merely animals, we would be concerned with survival and reproduction, and maybe some playtime. But we are more than that. The most challenging thing is to define what more is, personally and collectively. And if we have already focused on more for decades…well then, survival and reproduction might feel like a welcome reprieve from the complexities and rigors of progress and achievement.

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The best and worst thing I’ve had to do is wait.