I can tell it’s going to be a good day because Priscilla Warner, best-selling co-author of The Faith Club (her new book Learning to Breathe is an OG Book Club read for the fall), has said “f*ck it” three times before we make it from the ferry boat where she picks me up to the farmer’s market, where we buy radishes and baby carrots and marvel at a zucchini that is just too big to talk about politely. The man selling the massive zucchini is of the natural, sea salty, walk-on-the-earth types which Martha’s Vineyard attracts as locals. He has longish sun-bleached hair tucked under a hat and wears a shirt that says downward facing dog, which is not actually a yoga reference. (Thank god; that would be too obvious). It depicts a dog salmon, swimming downstream. Get it?
Priscilla is a new friend who feels a lot like an old friend, which is nothing to say of her being older than I am at age 60 (about which she wrote in Why 60 is the New 60 for the Huffington Post) and more to do with the fact that the connection between us has been quick and easy, like synapses in a brain that’s doing what it’s wired to do, the Pop Rocks candy fizzle of a friendship that exists before the two parties get there, so that when they show up, there’s not much work to be done. Oh, hello. So, we are friends. This is how it is.
I’ve been paying more attention lately to these personal and professional relationships that catch fire so naturally.
In a spirit of generosity that I am barely able to fathom, Priscilla invited me to the Vineyard (a short boat ride from where I grew up and my parents still live, on the same ferry on which I worked as a deckhand as a teenager) to enjoy the effervescence of new friendship and put our heads together professionally. Specifically, she offered to read some of my manuscript and provide feedback.
She did. It was genius.
But it was the sparkle in her eye each time she said “f*ck it” and gracious welcoming into her beautiful home, with its old Buddha statue and less old and more precious photos of her sons– one taken by their Dad in which they are little and leaning against massive trees– that inspired me even more. I leaned on her experience, adored her lack of a filter, and felt the comfort of a home in which love hangs from the walls and hides in the garden. It helped me share my writing.
In the past year, I’ve learned what many writers say: we live on islands sometimes. We work alone, tapping at keys, words for company, in an unpredictable creative climate. It can be harsh or mild or aglow with a moon that lights up your brain so you can write for hours as it watches over you. Sometimes, though, the climate is itchy and hot, with gnats buzzing in your mind. You can barely string together a sentence. You’re in a doubt storm without an umbrella.
Not without the help of people like Priscilla, I’m learning to survive the elements. I know that inspiration can come from any direction, without much notice, but when it arrives, you know it like an old friend, or a new one who feels like an old one.
DON’T SAVE ANYTHING. Priscilla tells me in the car. Don’t save it for later. Don’t save it for another book. Write everything. Put it all in there. You never know what will happen next or if there will be another book.
She’s right, and this advice applies to anything.
Whether it’s writing a book, starting a business, sharing something we’ve created, professing our love, or beginning an exercise program after being inactive for a long time: anything worth anything takes courage. But, how often we hold back. How often people tell me that they’d do yoga if they were more flexible or meditate when they weren’t so busy. When it’s the weekend, on a beach, when the weather is right, then we can relax and appreciate the moment. We can all relate.
And we can learn to say f*ck it. We can venture off our islands, to find a friend, farmer’s market, and a very good day on the opposite shore.