When do you pitch a pen in the trash?
I’ve always thought this was an obscenely obvious question to answer.
You throw it away when it’s utterly unusable, when every last speck of ink has been liberated from its thin plastic tubular prison.
I mean really, what do you think I am – a wastrel? Rich? Foolhardy?
We don’t waste things here.
We use them up til they’re finished.
Sucked dry and licked clean.
Doesn’t matter if we no longer like them.
Doesn’t matter if we’ve found something better.
Doesn’t matter if they take up too much of our time or effort or space.
We don’t waste things here.
So I’m no stranger to grabbing for the unneeded backside of a bill and squiggling and swirling and circling, again, again, and yet again, feverishly willing ink to trickle and flow. Far past when most sane people would probably give up, I keep on scribbling, sure that my increased diligence and faith will result in some sweet inky payoff. It usually takes the paper tearing from the force of the tip digging into that same sore spot one too many times, to get me to retreat and admit defeat. The only consolation therein being how utterly empty the ink tube was, how thoroughly used up I had gotten it before I surrendered it, reluctantly, to the trash.
And so doesn’t it so often go with our own energy, our own self and being.
Keep pushing, try harder, don’t let up until you’re entirely exhausted and spent. Self care is seen as a luxury, an indulgence, a selfish whim not available to the practical, the hardworking, those who labor to live. We take pride in running ourselves ragged, in depleting our resources so severely that our bodies have no choice but to shut down. We boast of going to work when we really should have stayed home, of stretching our limits so thin that we’d rail against a loved one for doing the same, running our own ink well dry and cursing it for not yielding something of use.
I’ve recently realized though just how much effort I’ve been exerting in trying to urge indelible fluid to flow from empty pens, pressing down hard and harder still.
Grip tightening so firmly and forearm clenching so severely, it’s like a physical embodiment of what happens when one mentally grabs too closely to best laid plans, or emotionally clings too dearly to the last anticipated dregs of what might still be left of whatever it is that’s been so desperately clutched. Trying to make it work when it is so utterly, irreparably broken that whatever it is to become will be painfully unrecognizable. Staying the course though the vehicle has derailed and you are about to crash hard. Tempting to breathe life back into a dead thing.
In trying so hard to resist what is as it’s changing, our attention becomes hyper-focused, laser-like, pinpointed on it. So much so that we lose sight of those destructive effects being wrought on our bodies, minds, and souls in the process.
And so we destroy all the parts of ourselves that would want to be with whatever it is we are trying to force back into that sweet humming intersection of right time, right vibe, and full on energetic alignment.
In trying to force the bloom past its prime, we unintentionally dishonor the beauty and goodness it once brought.
We send a message too, subtle or strong, that we must run ourselves and everything we love to depletion as well.
So let’s instead try this:
Let’s let things run their courses. Revel in their splendor and frolic in their glory and when it’s time, part peacefully and with love. Honor every awesome thing about it and let that live on in memory and soul-feeling instead of dragging it through the rubble of clinged-to expectations and fearfully fixed time.
And in so letting, we can give ourselves permission now to stop trying so hard to extend that which is meant to end. Or if not end, then to purposefully, consciously choose again, re-engage with it anew, as simply as uncapping a brand new pen.