Cross-Legged In An Imaginary Chair

I began a new workout regimen last week that includes, among many other challenges, certain stretching exercises based on basic yoga poses. One stretch requires me to cross my right ankle over my left knee and then bend as if sitting in an invisible chair, all the while balancing on one foot. This is not a position I had ever attempted until Sean, my very fit, encouraging instructor, told me to. It didn’t go so well at first. Sean was as solid as stepstool, but I always wobbled left, right, or forward. I don’t like wobbling. Whether I’m writing, talking, walking, or standing on one foot, I like to be balanced. But I always wobbled doing this pose. I wobbled so much that the insidious, defeatist mantra began whispering in my mind: I just can’t do it.

Until I realized I was waiting too long to find my balance. To balance on one foot while sitting cross-legged in an invisible chair doesn’t leave much room for error. This position asks you to find your true center, that thin energetic line running from the top of your heard to the ground. Standing on two feet on a level hardwood floor, however, does not require such fine attention. The trick, I soon learned, was to find my true center before beginning the pose, and then maintain it from start to finish.

And lo, I wobbled less. Writing is often like sitting cross-legged in an imaginary chair. To find that new thought, that new scene, that new character, requires an attuning to a fine imaginary line within me, a place without doubt, a place without the vertiginous pull of other people’s opinion. To stay there long enough always requires emotional balance, a balance I cannot always find in an instant. Better to seek it even in the simpler scenes and thoughts, to hold it as a starting and ending point, so I needn’t go through the drama of mistaking falling for failure.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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