I once heard something about Mahatma Gandhi.
If someone felt stuck, he would say to do some physical labor. I didn’t hear why. But I have guesses.
I write this as someone who has been stuck, blocked, clogged, rutted. From there, it’s only a short moment before my belief in my work slips out. And in saunters a growing lump of fear that I can’t do what I’ve set out to do.
So, I have turned to physical labor. The miniaturized, urban version of it. I take out the garbage. Fill the ice cube tray. Scrub my bowl from lunch. Clean the counters with a spray that says it smells like geraniums.
They are tiny victories. Tiny reminders that I can see a thing through from beginning to end.
With garbage gone and ice cubes freezing, with tiny victories creating tiny momentums, my belief slips back in. Not in a triumphant bang, but slowly, quietly through the backdoor. And I start to remember all the ways I can do what I set out to do.
So, I return to the work gently. And the work is just as I’ve left it. But I am not.
Now my guess as to why Gandhi recommends something physical, something that is outside ourselves and in the world, is because it can leave us not as it found us.
And remind us of what we’d forgotten we have in us.