Didn’t sleep. Can’t stand this phase where nothing I write is good. Slept in between panic at the thought of having to complete a book by next year.
Why is it that now writing is a stress? Why is it that now, my form of self-mutilation is forced study? If I don’t write something “good” then that’s cause for self-doubt and criticism. If I can’t write, then I shouldn’t sleep. I shouldn’t leave the room for days.
All of this. It’s consuming. I feel like I did, halfway up the mountain, when I was sick, throwing up from the cramping of muscles around my stomach, bees in my lungs, ache in every bone. I wanted to lie down, but the rest of my group said “get up, keep walking.” I looked at the dirt. Took each step in anger. Forced myself to feel all of the pain in my body like it was sweetness. Like I could master something if I could master this pain. And didn’t the pain tell me I was alive? And so, each step I’d want to cry out, to lie down and give up. But somewhere inside me I thought, no, you don’t deserve to feel the absence of this pain, you haven’t finished. You have shown nothing.
And so, when we finally reached the top, I thought I’d feel relief. I thought I’d feel a swelling of pride.
Instead, I stood, surveyed the stillness and thought, out of all this, I am nothing, fleeting.
I think I fainted.
But it was finding my smallness that was the gift. Not that I had climbed the mountain, but that I could finally see how small I was. And though perhaps I should have felt discouragement, I felt comfort. Because somehow, I was there. Even if I fail at everything I set out to do, I existed. It was letting go, I think, of expecting a win, a prize, with accomplishment. I didn’t feel joy at the summit. I only felt small. Sometimes, that’s exactly how we need to feel.
I wrote this at four in the morning:
I want to lock myself in a room for days upon days, like a monk with his scroll or ancient book. I want to sleep for only an hour and wake with pain in my bones, teeth that crack and a heart that cannot help but stutter. I want lines to roll down my chest, lines of text. To have nothing to consume but the thoughts of others more brilliantly laid out than my own, so I can be humbled, hour after hour, about how the world is more beautiful than I could describe. Days of this. Days of trying to write and failing, days of other people’s voices. Days where I get lost enough in the wooded words and rinsed metaphors that nothing seems perfect, or placed just so, or called out correctly. Where time loses its tick. Where I no longer want to write, because nothing I’ve written says something new.
Then, release me somewhere. Silence. Stillness. I cannot hear their voices. The Babel Tower has fallen. Then, I may have something to say.
But to You, I’d ask, what does it matter now?