Free Writing with Bill

Big Sur and fog on a typical day in June. Phot...

It is Thursday afternoon at Esalen. Bill Herr has a free-writing circle he has been facilitating since the early 1990’s. I have been coming to sit on his circle for several years whenever I have the opportunity. Those who show up, usually five to ten of us, sit in a circle on the floor with our pillows and back-jacks and taking a prompt from Bill (or not), write for a designated time, maybe 5-15 minutes and then share what we have written, if we choose.
Today there are six of us, Bill, Peter, Teri, Edward, Emily and me. Our first write is ten minutes and the prompt offered is “no prompt.”
I am free writing for ten minutes. The sound of my fingers tapping the keys is a sound I love. It means that I am not stuck…something is coming forth…and in my world of writing it doesn’t matter what it is…only that I write…stream of consciousness flowing.
I had a great massage this morning and it has left me feeling extra soft and open. I can feel my breath full and deep, all the way down into my belly. I am relaxed and happy to be here, not only at Esalen but sitting on this red pillow in Watts with Bill and Peter, Teri, Edward and Emily.
A writing circle feels like a way to connect. I feel connected to the pillow, the space around me, the bigger space of Esalen, and these other souls that chose to come into this room to sit and write with others…others they may or may not know in any other context. There is a willingness to connect in this action.
Bill handed me the Erotic Tarot deck and asked me to choose a prompt for our next write. I randomly chose the card marked Four of Pyramids. A lovely young woman is in a swing. Upon closer examination I realize the swing is actually film, the kind we put in our movie cameras before digital. She is naked (is this what makes the deck “erotic?”) except for a pair of boots…serious boots, not the sexy-long-black-high-heeled ones, more like hiking boots or the kind engineers wear, and the laces are open. She is holding an umbrella in one hand, maybe more of a parasol. It doesn’t appear to be raining. The background color is a sunny yellow with stars in the sky which makes me think of dusk.
If I were this woman, I would be feeling quite safe and free, swinging in my nakedness, and prepared should the need arise that I come down from my swing and take off on foot through rough terrain…in the rain…although without clothes, getting wet doesn’t feel like an issue…I will leave the parasol behind.
Freedom and safety…the naked swinger is a metaphor for freedom and the boots symbolize safety. Safety and freedom…these two go hand in hand.

Bill pulls out the Buddha deck and Edward draws the card “Skeptical Doubts” from the suit of Hindrances
Skeptical doubt is a double negative…does that make is a positive? If my doubt is skeptical, I have uncertainty about my doubt. I am hesitating in my distrust. I do not really doubt, and that leaves room for trust.
Thank Buddha for that! Trust feels so much better than skepticism. Skepticism creates a tension in my body, is feels a lot like fear. Trust, on the other hand, feels good. When I choose trust, my body relaxes. I feel supported and expansive. I believe that I am in a field of possibility and anything I put my attention towards will easily manifest. Trust is the choice of magicians and skydivers.
When I was young, trust was my Tao. I trusted without realizing it was a choice. In the natural world, the world of me and the plants and animals, I felt safe enough to follow my urges without question of safety. It was the humans that took away my trust and replaced it with doubt.
Last prompt of the day…Gain.
What is gained by holding on to my fear? What is lost by honoring my Self? What if I choose to trust that I am enough without putting on the garb of society? What if I shed my cloak of domestication and let out my wild? What is gained? Would anything be lost?
Domestication is the word I use to describe the taming of natural impulses so that they fit into the culture’s box of “normal behavior.” It seems that religion is responsible for many of the beliefs that create the box of “normal.” Much of what is “normal” in American society (I can’t speak for other cultures) has a sexually repressive slant to it and is misogynistic. Patriarchy has called the shots on “normal” for as long as history reads. There appears to be a huge imbalance that is being passed off as “normal” and I don’t care to participate any longer. I am on a mission to get out of the box of normal and step into the wild.

The sharing from the group was great…wish I could share all that I heard…come to Esalen, Watts Room from 2-4 on Thursday afternoons…Bill will be here.


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