Awhile ago I was invited to a small gathering of friends, and the hostess gave instructions for us to come prepared with a story. “Story!? What kind of story!?”, we demanded. She said, “Just
anything about your life, like your favorite vacation or something funny that happened to you.”
I racked my brain for a worthy tale of some sort…and couldn’t think of a single thing that would be suitable. After several days of fretting, it hit me. I know, I’ll WRITE a story. Writing was something I used to do as a kid, and also something I had not done for a looooooong, long time.
Over the next few days, Ona’s story poured out of me. As I wrote, I found myself chuckling aloud one minute, then tearing up the next . The story was both silly and serious. And it felt sooo good to write it.
When it was finished I thought, THIS is what we’re SUPPOSED to feel like all the time (or at least, often). ALIVE. Fully embodied in our human-ness.
That day, Ona helped me to remember that creativity heals.
It doesn’t matter what your medium is, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect masterpiece. You don’t even have to show it to anyone else.
But when you do something creative, it gets you into that “flow” state, where healing happens and truth is found. It helps you understand and express the deepest parts of yourself. And THAT nourishes the soul.
Ona is a part of me, and I wonder… if maybe she’s a part of you too.
This is a story about a Plate Spinner named Ona. What is a Plate Spinner, you ask? Well, it’s an occupation that requires very little ingenuity or intelligence. To be a Plate Spinner, you just have to memorize, regurgitate, and perform. Anyone who’s been properly trained can become quite adept at standing in one place and spinning plates, while multi-tasking many unimportant things at once. Just continuously spinning and spinning.
In the back of Ona’s mind she always knew that she was destined for more, that Plate Spinning was NOT what she was put on this earth to do.
She asked herself, how the heck did I get here, wallowing in a sea of seemingly endless spinning plates? She battled with an underlying sense of unease, and wondered if her fellow Plate Spinners felt it too. She knew that something had to change. But she did not know WHAT to do, or how to do it, for it seemed that she’d always been a Plate Spinner of some sort or another, and she didn’t know how to stop.
She tried to read some self-help books. She made antioxidant-rich snuggleberry smoothies every day. She regularly hiked up a local hill called Mount Look-a-Boo, to breathe in the fresh air. She read about ancient kunda-twist-yer-torso-yasa exercises, so she tried that too. She kept hoping that these things would somehow change her fate, so that one day she finally would no longer be feeling…so terribly flat. And while each of these endeavors had their own virtues, leaving her both limber and fortified, they weren’t enough to sustain her spark.
One day Ona was plodding home from the Plate Spinner factory, in a daze after another long monotonous day. She was thinking to herself, I’m NOT just a Plate Spinner, I’m so much more. But what, exactly? And how could she find out?
All that thinking was making her sweat, and she suddenly felt quite thirsty. She realized that she had somehow strayed for her normal route, and was now on an unfamiliar and very overgrown path. She got tangled in a dense thicket, with big prickly thorns. “ARGH,” she said, “how am I ever going to get unstuck!?” Then something shimmery caught her eye. It was two beautiful butterflies with the most stunning iridescent colors adorning their wings. They seemed to whisper her name, and she saw that they were pointing her toward a clever way to escape the thicket.
As she emerged, she saw a wise old woman nearby, stirring something in a big pot. The woman gave her a cup of the nourishing broth, made from special healing plants. As Ona drank the magical brew, her thirst was instantly quenched. She told the wise woman about her predicament and asked, “What can I do? How do I stop standing still and spinning plates?” And she went on to list all the things she’d tried already, including the self-help books and the snuggleberry smoothies. The old wise woman listened for a while, and then she cocked her head a bit, squinting out of one eye. She said in a slightly humorous, yet kind way,
“Just do it, girl. You must find your tree.”
“WTF, find my tree??” grumbled Ona as she left the wise woman and trudged along the path once more. The butterflies soon returned, and they whispered “we are your dreams, follow us, you’re getting closer and closer.” So she followed them around bends and turns and ups and downs, through fields and over creeks. Finally, as she reached the top of yet another misty knoll, she knew that she had found it…her tree. Ona was in awe. She stopped and wrapped her arms around its beautiful trunk. “This tree is you,” whispered the butterflies softly.
Ona looked into her tree and saw so many dead leaves, and she knew with certainty that she must clean it out. As she set to work removing the leaves, she understood that each of them had a name; Sorrow. Shame. Anguish. And she kept on picking. Loneliness. Invisibility. Heartache. Guilt. Ona began to make a pile with the dead leaves, a safe distance away from her tree, as she continued to gently pull them off. Anger. Fear. Pain. Insecurity. Then she lit the leaves on fire, watching quietly as they smoldered.
The mist began to clear, and she turned to see many more beautiful trees dotting the surrounding hillside. And with each of the trees was their person, working to pull off the dead leaves, lighting them on fire, and releasing them.
In that instant Ona understood the one-ness she had read about. She felt a deep sense of reverence and connection.
She turned back to her own tree once more, and began to coax out the new green leaves by nourishing them with tender care, encouragement, and compost. As the sweet, vibrant buds emerged, she heard their names; Humor. Love. Divinity. Healing. Courage. Intuition. And she kept working, cultivating even more new leaves; Compassion. Forgiveness. Wisdom. Grace. Strength.
Ona looked out again at all the people, growing their trees. Then up at the beautiful blue sky, with its shifting clouds of pink and white.
She breathed deep with joy, knowing that her inner revolution had begun.
Does anything about Ona’s journey resonate with you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this story, please feel free to share it!