Oh, Linus, wrapping your precious blanket around your giant head and telling us just what Christmas is about— your little voice, spoken through a slightly stuffy nose, echoes for me behind every other voice that reads that passage of Scripture. Watching the Peanuts Christmas special has become necessary each year. It is something we do to perpetuate our Christmas “feeling,” the same way Charlie Brown tries to perpetuate it in the show.
Linus holding his blanket is an icon of childhood, isn’t it? Every kid needs a blanket. I had one. I named it Bankie. Or maybe I called it Bankie, and therefore it was named Bankie. It was this comfort that led me to buy my son Theo his first Loopy.
Loopy is legendary. He was, at the start, a comfort I was trying to perpetuate. I would be flying with Theo alone when he was nine months old, and I wanted him to have something familiar to hold on the plane. So I bought something new, and handed this toy to him over and over at times of need, times he needed comfort. Loopy was a lion, or, at least, he was a lion head attached to a small blanket.
My plan worked. To this day Loopy still holds a special place in our family, like an unblinking, and really, really dirty pet.
Loopy has reincarnated, though, into a giraffe head stuck to a blanket. This is because the original Loopy was lost. The giraffe-head Loopy was originally intended to be a gift to my daughter Chloe from Theo when she was born. But Loopy was lost, and giraffe-head had already been purchased. The giraffe slid easily into Loopy’s place. In utero, Chloe did not seem to care.
Knowing Theo’s love of his Loopy, we were gifted with several at Chloe’s baby shower. There was a Winnie the Pooh Loopy (Poopy, we figured), a cat Loopy (Meow), a frog (Ribbit), a bear (Boopy), a bunny (which would later be called Moist Bunny, because Chloe would chew on him). All of these, save for Moist Bunny, are still in pristine condition. The soft fur is still delightfully soft, the satin on the underside shiny and cool and smooth. This is because Chloe never really took to the Loopy idea.
But it worked last time! Aren’t all little kids the same?! asked the mom who stared at her new second child in wonder. Chloe’s needs in this manner were pretty basic. She was a happy baby, a good sleeper. So we shrugged. I guess having a comfort of some cuddly kind wasn’t a basic necessity after all.
It wasn’t until Chloe was two that we met Brookie. Brookie is a twenty-four inch stuffed rainbow trout. Really. My sister and I found her at Cabela’s, and handed the giant fish over to Chloe in her stroller, on a whim, to see what Chloe would do. And Chloe started laughing, and laughing, and flinging the fish around like she had been waiting for this moment all of her life. When we took the fish away, Chloe signed for “more,” and I pulled out my wallet and bought a fish.
It was funny to see Chloe cuddle up to this thing, which at the time was only slightly smaller than she. It was too awkward to cart around in the car, or while running errands, so Brookie had to be content to stay in Chloe’s bed most of the time. But the reaching to Brookie was, and still is, an automatic motion for Chloe as we put her to bed. She loves that wacky fish.
The fish is smushy like any other stuffed creature, but not exactly soft. Under no circumstances would you be compelled to pet this fish. Maybe poke it, and certainly smack each other upside the head in a pillow vs. giant stuffed fish fight. So what is it that she loves about this fish?
Does it matter?
How stuck do you get in your routines, in your habits, because it’s what has worked in the past, even though it’s just not working out now?
I have been staring at Loopy kinds of days with apathetic ennui. I have been wanting, needing a giant stuffed trout.
I try different versions of old schedules and routines for writing, trying to perpetuate productivity, and even when the writing is hard and nothing seems to be getting done, I press. Certainly something can be said for perseverance, but why persist in banging my head against a wall when all I’m getting is a headache?
I don’t get up, go out, and give the artist in me some air, some breath. I sit in my discipline dizzy for oxygen, stubborn in my fainting. The first rule of writing is to sit and write, I say as I gasp for air right before my head hits the desk.
Good golly, why must we torture ourselves?
I need to learn to be flexible enough to enjoy the work again, even if it happens after my normal bedtime (gasp!) or away from my desk at the noisy New Moon, over a cup of the best Chai Tea Latte available to mankind. I don’t leave my house after dark on a normal night, even though I could. (I am a grown up, after all. Seriously. I am married to routine.) There’s bedtime and dishes and a husband, but he is a gracious and supportive husband who does dishes and bedtimes and loves to see me happy, and would love to see the smile on my face after I got home from working away from my desk, after my normal bedtime.
My bones might creak as I move from the position I’ve been living in for so long. I might get a hangover from the drunken revelry of doing what I love, gorging my artist on what propels me back to the page, back to the desk, where I can sit, lungs full, and breathe that new life into my words.
I have to move, before the dust settles so thick no joy can penetrate.
What do you do when you’re stuck? What do you do when you are trying to cultivate discipline and perseverance, but don’t seem to be moving forward— when what was supposed to do the trick isn’t working?