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The Sunny Side of the Street

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I grew up in the great Desert Southwest—Las Cruces, New Mexico. To this day, I love the desert landscape—the rich browns, reds, and greens of the Mesilla Valley running right up to the foot of the purple Organ Mountains.

Organ Mountains Las Cruces New Mexico

It is sunny and dry 300+ days of the year there. Yet there is a wide variety of vegetation due to two factors—the Rio Grande and a major underground water table. So, with just a little work, industrious settlers cultivated the land into produce and/or cotton farms as well as pecan orchards. (According to a study by a task force in the NMSU Ag Department, 46% of all chiles produced in the U.S. come from New Mexico.) Unlike farmers in the deep south where rainfall is usually plentiful, farmers in New Mexico must work to get water to their crops. They irrigate—there is a series of canals that run through Las Cruces that carry water all throughout the Mesilla Valley.

Irrigation Canal Las Cruces New Mexico

Today, I took these industrious farmers’ example to heart. The “rainfall” of writing still hasn’t come, so I dug deep, found what little reserves I had left in my creative reservoir, and tapped into it. An hour later, I’d written more than 1,200 words! Much like the early farmers in the Mesilla Valley, I didn’t have to dig too deeply before I found a source waiting to be plumbed. They found water for their crops; I found refreshment for my creativity and spirit.

I’ve had a few people share with me privately that they, too, are experiencing a drought in one form or another in their lives right now. And to think I almost didn’t post yesterday. Not sharing my thoughts and feelings when I’m “blue” is another symptom of that downward spiral I mentioned. I usually just smile and pretend everything is okay—which is much easier to do online, and extremely stressful at church or work. And yet the perverse issue with that response to the depression is that all I really want is for someone to reach out to me, to understand that I’m hurting, and to help me lift myself up out of the three-day-old coffee dregs that my life has become. But how can I expect that kind of help if I don’t ask for it?

Are we creative-types more prone to bouts of the blues or depression because of the solitary nature of our pursuit? Or is it because most creative-types are introverts who spend too much time looking inward—depending on ourselves alone for refreshment and falling down the spiral when our internal resources are tapped out? Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of years, you’ve heard over and over about how our country’s/world’s natural resources are quickly being used up—from fresh water to oil and natural gas. Our internal resources are like this—if we don’t find some way to renew them, eventually they get tapped out.

This is when we really need to turn to others and, though it may be one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done, ask for help. You know who the people are around you who provide that kind of refreshment. For me, it’s my crit partners, Erica and Georgiana, with whom I can vent off my frustrations and receive encouragement in return—and offer encouragement when one of them needs help. It’s chatting with my friend Ruth, who shares my affinity for British actors/movies and the music of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. It’s singing songs about Jesus and his resurrection in choir practice. It’s praying with my spiritual mentor or my best friend. It’s laughing over an inside joke. It’s writing and feeling that gentle rainfall starting once again, quenching my drought.

So, when you’re tapped out, where can you turn? Who is there—or can be there—for you to help you return to the “Sunny Side of the Street”?

  1. Wednesday, April 4, 2007 10:56 pm

    God is there.

    That can sound so cliche, but more and more I’m learning I am and have absolutely nothing without God. And on top of that, He has given me so incredibly much!


  2. Thursday, April 5, 2007 9:50 am

    Seasons of drought, they make us appreciate the times of healing rain even more. By its very nature, this writing life is prone to times of doubt, loneliness, wandering around inside our heads wondering what we are doing. We’re forever seeking something. The right word, the perfect plot twist, the right agent, a publisher…ANY publisher! I think you are wise in recognizing the signs of drought in your own life and taking positive steps to ‘pierce a cloud’ and allow the rain to fall.


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