I am late getting to this week's reading again. This time it wasn't illness that got me behind schedule—it was The Tower.
I've written about this card before (you can read that here if you wish). Sometimes the Tower represents a singular event, one of enormity and destruction, one that requires you to sink or swim. This is its classical meaning. But sometimes—as in my previous weekend—the Tower falls brick by brick, like shrapnel. During such Tower times, you may feel as if the Fates are aligned against you, that everything you touch either falls apart or clamps down on you like a booby trap.
Such was my weekend.
I was at a conference in Atlanta (a FANTASTIC conference, by the way—Mystic South. You should go next year, you really should). I first noticed something was off when the sink quit working in my room right in the middle of brushing my teeth. I soon learned that a water main had burst, and that our fifteen-story hotel was without running water of any kind. Which also means that the hotel was without air conditioning. In Atlanta. In July.
The hotel staff rallied. They filled the side parking lot with port-a-potties. They set up hydration stations in the lobby, passed out gallons of spring water to take to the rooms. There was even free ice cream and popsicles. The housekeeping staff used the water in the fountains to mop with. The conference staff also responded like true heroes, with patience and good humor, and the workshops continued. We talked about hoodoo and root work, writing by moon signs and working with the genii loci. It was soul nourishing and brain stimulating.
But the Tower was not done with me. On my way home, massive car crashes (including one involving a gasoline-filled tanker truck) shut down the interstate. As I tried to find alternate routes, other crashes (six in all) also shut down those highways. Plus, no matter what I tried to do with my credit card, whether buy gas or get some beef jerky, the card reader refused to cooperate.
Such a minor thing, this, but it had me almost in tears at the Walgreens. The nice lady cashier said, "Don't worry, honey, it's just a glitch." I wanted to yell and scream that no, it wasn't, that I was trapped in a Mercury retrograde all my own, a personal bad luck tornado. In the end, I made it home safely, grateful, beef jerky in hand, thanks to the help of a lot of people.
What does any of this have to do with writing? I was wondering when you'd ask.
This week, remember that Towers will rise and fall outside of your control. Sometimes they are singular catastrophes; sometimes they are a series of unwelcome calamities. Sometimes your creative work will suffer (mine surely has). But during such unfortunate events, do as Mr. Rogers suggested and look for the helpers. You'll find them. They'll have a kind word or a bottle of cool water. They'll take your hand or offer their shoulder for you to cry on. And sometimes you're the one called to be the helper. You can do it, I'm sure. Because when the bricks start falling, we find resources we didn't know we had.
This week, remember...whenever the Tower rears, dodge the mayhem as best you can. Offer help whenever possible. Accept help whenever you need to. The work will be there when the crisis is over, so don't beat yourself up if you don't make your word count. The work will wait for you. It is patient that way.
Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. It's why we're here. And I sincerely hope that your week is Tower-free.