Elizabeth Wexler
and Annie Gedicks

Annie Gedicks
On the Walls Inside Her Head

Inspiration piece

By Elizabeth (Betsy) Wexler


She had an itch on her nose. Was she allowed to scratch it? she wondered to herself. Then she realized: I’m thinking. I think I’m just supposed to label it “thinking” and return my attention back to the breath. But my NOSE ITCHES! What did the great meditation masters do when their noses itched?

She shifted on the round buckwheat cushion below her, uncrossing and then re-crossing her legs. There. That was a good way to get a fresh start. Wait, did she need a fresh start?  Couldn’t she just label whatever she was thinking right now “thinking”, and go back to the breath?

She didn’t see how people don’t lose their shit doing this.

The quiet was unsettling, though she had hoped it would be peaceful. That’s why she came to this damn weekend retreat.  Her life was too crazy, to tense, to rife with drama. She wanted to get away, to find peace.  She wanted to have a break from her brain, from the endless worry, obsession, and chatter. Instead she was finding the inside of her head to be the loudest place on the planet.  Keeping her head perfectly still, she snuck a look around at the other people, sitting on their own cushions.  She wondered for  a split second if she looked like some kind of sinister cartoon character, moving her eyes around like that. Meanwhile, they all looked like they were doing it right.  Thinking…back to the breath. Inhale, exhale.  But wait-what if they were doing what she was doing? I mean, she must look like she’s doing it right, from the outside at least. Might they be screwing it up too, just not visibly? Wait, she wasn’t supposed to think she could screw it up-right? Wait, she wasn’t supposed to say “supposed to”—right??

Thinking…back to the breath. Inhale, exhale.  Maybe someone else’s nose was itching too.

Moving only her eyes, keeping her meditation posture, straight back, legs crossed, butt on the cushion, hands resting on her thighs…she snuck a peek at the timekeeper.  On his cushion he sat, with access to a clock.  That was so he could strike the gong when the meditation period was over, or rather when they switched to walking meditation. She was waiting for that with baited breath. Of course, after a minute or two of that, she couldn’t wait to sit down again. It wasn’t a preference for either of the practices. She was just excited when they got to change what they were doing. Sitting to walking, walking to sitting. It was the highlight of her day.  In that moment, looking at him, she felt a flash of ire. He could look at the clock. He had a job to do. HE didn’t just have to sit there, with the insides of his head bellowing at him.

Thinking…back to the breath. Inhale, exhale.

She tried to look at her thoughts without getting attached to them. Impossible.  As soon as she looked at what a thought contained, her mind was off and running. The director had given a metaphor in the morning meditation instruction: imagine you are standing on land, with a slow train going by. Each of the train’s cars is made of glass. Within each of those cars is a thought. It enters your line of vision, you see it, it leaves.  That was a slow train he was talking about. Her mind was a runaway train, whizzing down the tracks with no intention of stopping.

Thinking…back to the breath. Inhale, exhale.

My GOD, she thought, does my nose ITCH.


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  1. Posted September 27, 2010 at 9:19 am | #

    Wow, loved this one. Sooooo original, so insightful. Puts it all in perspective! Love the runaway train part especially, and so understand it.

  2. Posted September 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm | #

    So much going on in this painting…would love to see it in real time. and Oh Betsy, a truly wonderful response! I feel these two really speak to each other. Nicely done!

  3. Posted October 4, 2010 at 4:29 am | #

    Thanks to both of you! The last go-round I ended up writing poems, and I wrote a poem as an inspiration piece, but creative nonfiction is really my genre. this might be the closest to fiction I’ve ever gotten!

  4. Posted October 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm | #

    That really is it, but I usually scratch my nose!