Years ago, I was driving along a New Hampshire highway, and spotted a turtle by the side of the road.
My heart went out to it. So many times, you see crushed turtles on the road. They simply can’t move quickly enough to escape the rushing traffic.
Now, on the other side of the highway was a lake.
Clearly, the turtle was confused, and needed help. So I pulled over, picked up the turtle, and took it to the lake side of the road.
I was so proud of my good deed. I patted myself on the back for taking the time to help a little turtle.
Imagine how embarrassed I was to learn, years later, that I had done exactly the wrong thing.
Turtles don’t get lost.
Female turtles have powerful drives to do exactly what this one was doing. They travel long distances to a safe, dry place away from their watery home, to lay their eggs. When they’re done, they return to the water.
I had simply prolonged this poor turtle’s journey. And forced it to cross the dangerous highway again.
I read an article about our nation’s tendency to offer international aid, with good intentions. But we often neglect to let each country determine what aid it really needs. The author used the same example of giving misguided ‘help to the turtle. “Ask the turtle,” she admonished. “The turtle knows exactly what it needs.”
I love this story, though I still feel bad for my own turtle.
I had a phone consultation with Lyedie Lydecker a few days ago. With a messy studio, new projects looming, new work I want to do, small orders I need to fill, upcoming knee surgery and the resulting loss of income (I can’t do my big League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair this year), I’ve been overwhelmed with how to best use my remaining non-invalid time. I’d ask Lyedie to help me sort it all out.
She listened, which is a blessing in itself. So many people listen, but then try to fix. (I do that!) I was listened to with exquisite care.
But the best insight was how to approach my studio.
It’s such a mess, and the thought of cleaning it now is overwhelming.
Now, about our studios…. Lyedie firmly believes that our studio isn’t just a physical space to work. It’s a partner in our creative process.
She said, “Ask your studio–your beloved partner in your creative process–what it needs.
As I look over the notes I took of our conversation, I flashback to an article I wrote almost eight years ago. As I reread it, I’m astounded by what I wrote that day.
Because it echoes Lyedie’s words so clearly, it’s eerie.
I firmly believe that we already know what we need to know. Sometimes it takes someone else to tease it out of us. And sometimes we just need someone to tell us.
So how do I ask my studio what it needs? Hmmmmmm……
Someone once told me how to do just that. The universe will give us everything we ask for, she said, if we would ask the right way.
You look down and close your eyes, droopy. Then expand and stand tall. Raise your face to the sky, turn your hands out, and ask. Out loud. Ask for what you want with your whole heart. (I did it a few times, and it worked so profoundly, I was scared to ask any more. Mistake!)
Now what does that remind me of??
I realize today I’ve seen this posture before.
You can see it in the figure above, one of a group of four female figures I saw in the King Tut exhibition in Toronto many, many years ago. They are guardian figures (of Tut’s sarcophagus?), believed to be modeled after his mother. They protect the remains of her beloved son, with serenity, with peace, with gentleness and love.
So that’s what I did this morning. I entered the studio today as a supplicant, as a loving partner, eager to restore my beautiful relationship with my beloved space.
I asked my studio what it needed from me.
Because I was willing to see, to listen, to feel, to love, I heard what my studio needs.
And it was not what I thought it was. It doesn’t want much. There are no demands, no resentment, no punishment or resentment. Just a few gentle requests. All things I can manage, and all things that will return tenfold in joy.
Today, I asked the turtle.