“Until the lion learns to write every story will glorify the hunter.” African ProverbMr Criticism and Mr Anxiety two thickset bullies catch up with me as I drive toward the jagged Rocky Mountains. After facilitating a two day Conflict Resolution workshop for fifteen people for the Calgary Board of Education, I am content. I enjoyed young Devon 18 from Calgary and Kumar from India who ran his own business, spent many years in Japan and spoke several languages. He brought in a box of Robins donuts while another participant brought coffee. A first in my experience.
I watch the flaming sunset illumine the ridges, my hands on the steering wheel, my foot soft on the accelerator as a wave of exhaustion spreads across my eyes, weighs on my shoulders and abdomen. My thoughts churn. Anxiety is in the backseat while Criticism sits bolt upright, towering over me in the passenger seat. I jump when he jabs his spiky fingers into my right shoulder blade.
I know these two fellows well. They have been acquaintances of mine for as long as I can remember. The more I chase them away with pitchforks and hand grenades the more they pounce on me when I let my defences down. “How did you terrorists sneak into my car?” I ask.
With a sneer, criticism the smart Alex replies, “What’s the matter with you? I thought you’d be pleased to have company on the way home. We’ll keep you awake.”
“Actually I am not happy. The last thing I need is your company.” I replied.
“Don’t you know you’re mother gave me the job of accompanying you through your life, so here I am,” anxiety chimes in.
As I pass fields with golden hay bales, they frisk me and suck out any remaining joy. Criticism carries on his relentless tirade, “Why did you tell that dumb story about your eleven month old daughter jumping out of her crib. That has nothing to do with conflict in the workplace.” He drains me of any feelings of wellbeing.
Anxiety chirps in, “How much money did you make? You spent over a week preparing for the two day workshop.”
“You spend all your time writing and creating workshops because you love it. Wilma how many times have I told you, you need a real job, one that pays? You’ll end up a bag lady with a shopping trolley, roaming Calgary’s frozen street ,” criticism continues.
Shivering I cower into my seat. Then something in me snaps. “Enough,” I yell. “How dare you berate me like that? You two have sucked enough of my life energy. It’s time for you to walk.” I pull over onto the shoulder, open the door and turf them onto the frozen verge.
“After all we have done to help you, how can you be so mean to us?” they whined.
“You can think about how to change your ways on the walk back to Canmore.” I said. I slammed the door and began to sing, “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls.” Lightness spread like a wave across my body as I began to nod my head to the music.
Then I heard another couple of voices, melodic tones as if from angels. I looked around. There to my astonishment beaming at me, were two young women with olive skin, and dark brown eyes. “Where did you come from?” I asked.
“We have been sitting here all the time. I am curiosity and this is my dear friend enthusiasm. Those two bullies drowned out our soft voices. We love to accompany you on your adventures,” Ms. curiosity replied.
“We hang out in your writing room and whisper words of encouragement. We are totally present when you lose track of time and spend hours in preparation fascinated by presenting your material in a more meaningful way.” Ms Encouragement added.
And the three of us sang all the way to Canmore.