“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “Are you trying to spoil my dinner? And what on earth do mushrooms, manure and and caves have to do with life writing?”
More than you would have guessed. Mushrooms are a gourmet item, turning many a mundane meal into a foodie’s feast. Stories perform a similar function, perhaps livening conversation at that feast. Though not all stories have mushroom-like roots in dung, and not all originate in darkness, some of the most compelling ones do.
I mention this to urge you to look back through your life and explore a few of those dark moments you generally prefer to leave behind closed doors in the dungeon of memory. Grab a pen and paper and fling open that door, fearlessly facing the never-quite-forgotten. Do this with a strong sense of hope and confidence that your exploration will result in a feast of flavorful story (perhaps for an audience of one), freeing you from the tyranny of secrecy, and you’ll experience significant health benefits as a result.
Don’t be surprised if your emotional temperature begins to rise as you explore this mental manure. Before mushroom spore is planted in horse by-product, the offal must ferment or “cure” for three to five weeks. The pile becomes quite hot in this process, killing harmful organisms like weed seeds and pathogens. Mental manure has a similar effect. It’s quite common to feel some distress as you recall dark, upsetting memories and events. When you’re done, the memory is “cured,” and succulent Truth mushrooms can grow from it.
Rest assured as you do, this is a sign the process is working, and after three to five days, your mushrooms will be planted. It will be time to shut off the cave again and let the mushroom stories grow and mature. Go outdoors and bask in the light. By the way, writing about happy positive memories has been shown to have the same health benefits as writing about dark ones.
After a suitable period of time, recheck your cave, and don’t be surprised to find a long list of stories ready to be transcribed.
Here’s a link to a collection of blog posts about the Pennebaker research and process and how to use it, along with others related to mining those mental mushrooms.
Write now: make a list of ten memories you could use as manure for growing mushrooms. Set aside some time to begin curing your compost and get started.
Mushroom cave: ChestofBooks.comPortabello Bake: Jules.stonesoup