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Kangaroos are Cool

We’re having perfect summer weather here in Atlantic Canada.

Canadians do not say such sentences casually. We say it with the same emotion as someone would say, “I won the lottery!” It stays cold far too many months of the year for us to be anything but passionate about summer.

Even better is that I’ve gotten to stay home for all of July and August. Two months without travelling AND in the summer? Too good to be true. Part of what I’ve looked forward to is having time to write. I have had plans to rework, edit, revise and finish a number of stories that are close, but not there yet. Though I looked forward to this work, it’s been rough. I’ve tackled only one story and the verdict is out on how well that’s going. There are simply too many other things are pulling on me, and one of them is the perfect summer weather.

I’ve been outside a lot. I have worked in the yard, painted the new addition we’re putting on the back of the house, gone for walks with my husband and spent a lot of time in my porch swing on the world’s most glorious front porch.

the world’s most glorious porch

When I come in from the heat, sweaty and dirty from the outside work, I always think of kangaroos. I read once that in the extreme Australian heat and arid conditions, they lick the inside of their wrists to cool down. The article (which unfortunately I can’t find on the internet) had an infared photo showing them orangey and yellow before licking, and blue and pink-purple after. So when I’m drying my hands after washing up, I always leave my wrists wet to help me cool down. It works.

Today when I was cooling off, I decided that I need a kangaroo trick for writing too. I have doubts about what I write a little bit most of the time, but a lot when I’m not actively writing. Writing, in fact, is the antidote for doubt. The more I write, the more confidence I have about what I’m writing and, because it’s fun to write a lot, I also just don’t care as much. There’s a free feeling of—sure it may be crap now, but all I have to do is fix it later. That’s easy to think when it’s all flowing well. But when I feel I should be writing, but am not, or if I feel stuck, or just can’t get to it for legitimate reasons, my doubts take over.

What if I could find a way to metaphorically lick my wrists and change my thoughts, the way the kangaroo changes the temperature of its circulation from the hot end of the spectrum to the cool side?

What I learned from kangaroos is that sometimes all you need is a light touch to make a big difference. Also: use what you have at hand. Roos don’t have the luxury of a dip in a swimming pool, so spit has to do.

So what do I have at hand? Words. Just words, but I know from experience that *solid* typed-words can usurp ethereal thought-words that are only in my head. Therefore, my new trick will be to type “kangaroo,” “lick,” or “spit” every time I have a negative thought while I’m writing. If I write a little and then start thinking about that porch swing, but know that I’m going to feel worse about myself and this project unless I keep writing, I will type “kangaroo” as many times as it takes (and it’s not that easy to type!). If I’m not sure where to go next with the story, I will type “lick” until it comes to me. If I am beset by self-doubts, “spit, spit, spit” will do nicely.

Apply words to document until the brain cools down and real writing—the kind that washes away all the doubts because it’s just fun—resumes.

Then I can have my porch time to thoroughly enjoy the rest of this perfect summer.

Here’s the original kangaroo image by “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos”

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