Navigating the Pink Cloud of Writing, and Life


There’s a term in recovery rooms, called the pink cloud - the period of exhilaration and weightlessness when you glimpse your life free from the drug. People float into meetings on a high, 6 months sober, all of a sudden with an expanded view of life – life without addiction, life without a crutch. They catch air and view what it might be like to live this way forever, no more hangovers, no more hospitals, no more numbing and running. Just facing and owning their emotions, and growing from a place of reality rather than false acquiescence.

From rock bottom to endless possibility, people taste freedom, and the sweetness makes them crave more. Because now that they’ve done this thing, the thing they never thought possible, they start to wonder,“What else can I do that I didn’t see?”

The lens opens. The view expands. We are like fish that never knew anything existed beyond our water in the pond.

When I started writing, the idea of creating a book looked like a movie montage set to music – woman writes every day, typing at her computer in dimness while her kids sleep. Then pages stack up, one by one, until a thick manuscript forms, and she shakes hands with a smiling publisher in New York City.

Embarking on a quest brings tail wagging excitement upon anticipation. Images scroll through your mind, and you of course create a rendition of the final product – the photo snapped when you finally reach the mountain’s peak. But in the middle of the process, as you are climbing, thirsty, and with aching muscles, your mind forgets the initial euphoria and you wonder if all of it was a dream, or worse, a crazy, futile aspiration.

You walk down the aisle in the wedding dress that took you months to choose. You brought friends and family to validate that you had indeed, chosen the right one. You bask in their compliments and stare at yourself in the mirror, I have done good. I am beautiful. This one is the right choice.

Eventually, the pink clouded honeymoon comes to an end and you settle into the effort of creating an entire life with someone, the effort of writing every day in a book no one may want to read, the effort of maintaining sobriety in an alcohol-filled world. You battle through relentless self-doubt and the critical voice that won’t leave you alone – it tells you you’re worthless, that you think you can do this but you can’t, and that none of it even matters.

When I stand on one leg in tree pose, the test is always to turn my head to one side, and look out across the opposite shoulder of my lifted leg. I always fall. What seemed so strong and grounded while looking ahead, becomes extremely wobbly once I turn my head and adjust my view. The exercise reminds me that there’s always another view, another point of growth, another expectation. Mother’s know, we master the nap just as it disappears; we are on to the next phase, and we start again as we began.

I think it’s important to revisit the cloud – I’ve always preferred floating to remaining planted in the ground. The ground allows me to work and to grow, to touch reality and stand firmly within myself. But the cloud allows me to glimpse the freedom, the possibility. For a minute, I can pick up my head from my desk, from my consistent typing and pursuing, and I can expand my view. I lift my gaze and allow myself the pleasure of glancing out and beyond. The wind and the air tempt me. Falling no longer feels so scary. Flying no longer seems out of the realm of possibility.