This post was inspired, partly, by this video.
In the stage of becoming
I have been thinking a lot lately of the ties and relations between my spiritual faith / journey and my faith (and lack there of at times) in writing and the journey I am on as a writer.
There are times where I am on top of the world. The words come easy, the muses are by my side….and then. And then.
It’s as though something has left through the back door. I cannot write anything that remotely sounds like my voice. Each time this happens, I despair and assume I will never write again. However, somewhere in a tiny cell with one candle lit, sits the part of me, whispering, “you will write again, have faith. Be patient.”
What quiets her? Fear. Fear and perhaps pride.
Pride because my body is useless without the walk-through of thoughts. Fear because my pride hangs on the hook of brain waves that conjure the words into the air, through the skull-cap and into my belly. From the belly, I hope it rises, again, through the chest and up toward the skull again. There, I pray it reverberates and sounds its song until I record it.
But when all is silent, I am left with nothing but my worrying thoughts.
I believe very much in cycles. Nature has taught me this. So have my notebooks.
Years and years, I’ve kept record of my thoughts. From a small girl questioning God to a teenager questioning herself, her writing, her worth…and one exceptional gift that that recording has given me is the chance to see the cycles, the patterns, the wading in and out of hope, despair, fruitfulness, mini-deserts and long grasslands—the great expanses of time that hold out its hand as though to embrace and I only see what’s immediately missing or immediately available, but not appreciated.
And so I’d read and re-read my old worries. My depression, sadness, my dancing and holding grip of joys that seem now only like shifting sand that I only faintly recall now, here, at a desk in New York.
Worry. Up, around, inside the gut. Writing, not writing, torn between singing and violently silencing myself.
And so I’d say, Look, obviously you’ve been through this before. Look, it will turn out, it will open up again, the words will fill the belly and float to the top, again, again, like seasons.
Easy, isn’t it? To study patterns, make prediction, calculate when and where and how it all ends.
But no matter how many times the girl inside the cell whispers “this too shall pass” I tremble in fear that perhaps THIS TIME it’s different and I won’t write again, I won’t fall in love or feel a burst of joy walking from my car, singing in the shower, crawling off the treadmill and onto back to breathe.
Faith, sometimes, is something altogether unknown.
So, I go back to the stillness that I fear. The exact quiet that makes me afraid.
Reading the journals, I see myself doubting the universe, which is myself.
But where do I turn when I recognize the very place that holds me here is the place I call my own heart? The hand that writes this sentence?
I have been reading a lot about the movement and seasons of Faith, of voice. Of the Voice. Of my Voice…and it has brought me back, again, to my writing life. Or perhaps my writing life is informing my spiritual life, I don’t know.
But in the chamber of doubt and suffering, I try and remind myself to listen to the whispering. Sometimes, I cannot hear her at all. Sometimes, I sit on my floor and cry for hours, not knowing why I am so desperate and sad. There are no reasons. But both joy and desperation can lift the spirit to something other than its self.
Within the doubt is a gift, too. It keeps me going back again to the desk. Back again to the journal. Back again to the little girl who said to Angels, FRIENDS! Speak to me, I am listening!
And I’d record even that.
As an adult, I block their voices. I say, I must be my own poet, must climb toward an adult way of writing, of singing, of keeping record.
And so I lean too much on a mirage of self. A mirage of perfection that I try so hard to keep controlled.
I go to the gym.
I read at the library.
I expect results.
So when the silence happens, when the writing abandons me,
I bang on my own chest.
Perhaps if I tell myself I’m failing, I’ll find some outer force to punish me back to writing again. Back to production and output and perfection.
What do I deserve if that’s the case? And still, I do it.
Instead of embracing the pause, the silence, I spit in its face. Never mind Faith. Never mind trust. Never mind the cycles.
Of course, this is all part of the cycle, the rejection of the cycle is part of it, too.
“Hate myself for being lazy. For writing crap. But I read Emerson, who said:
‘To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.’
Still, I judge myself too harshly, against what others think and most of all, what I myself think. What I wish for myself. What, exactly, am I doing? I have nothing, know nothing, and if God…I cannot say that, I cannot.”
Reading Emerson. He keeps going on and on about self-reliance and trusting the movement within ourselves.
Have been desparate for something to emerge. This tug of war gets me nowhere—then the self-doubt comes in and, slowly, the anger. And I try to write myself out of it, but that fails and makes the cycles even wore.
I need to remind myself that it’s OK if I don’t produce. It’s OK if I write nothing but whiney journal entries. Someday, the words will come back to me—they always do. It will not abandon me. I must keep that faith tucked away inside me, lean back a little more, berathe. Know that my destiny is already written, that I have little control, that the control I do have is to keep heart, to continue growing my passion and stay true to my love—faith in muses, that my brain is always working.
And so, I kept on. Though, the doubt still bites. And what was happening here other than the pouring in of words through the skull-cap and down into the belly. And silence came, yes, it did. But in that silence, in the struggle, was a tilling of the words in the belly, was a tearing away of old ground and a getting-ready for a new under-world of churning words, their bodies growing and vibrating inside.
What is the anxiety, the heat, other than the new words pushing through the soul, ready to pass up through the chest and into the skull—ready to make the trip the room where I would feel their whole strength, once they were ready. And through the skull, eventually, they will leave me again and out into the wide-world. On they will fly to find their way into some other body—where they will wait to germinate in the belly of another.
This is the conversation between us.
To trust the exchange is to open our whole body up to being receptive. To have faith in something bigger, more far reaching, than our body.
And so I will write:
I should sit in silence. Allow this. Sit in faith. Maybe then my words will ring truer, as I will have allowed moments to pass through me. If I can relax in the knowledge that what has come will return, then the confidence will then being to grow—not overbaring but humbly, and nestled in its place.
To have faith in the wholly other—as my works are said to be, risen out of a dirt that is not my ground, not my making.
And why not communicate with others? Would I always keep my words from them? No. My words are just as much theirs.
Why can’t I trust this, why so anxious?
So it never ends. Never, never ends. Walking back and forth between remembering my Faith and abandoning it. Between hearing the whispers and drowning in white-noise.
But, like today, when I climbed out of bed and into the sun, when I read of the desert fathers and their patience, when I lashed out at a loved one, when I felt humbled, when I remembered the kind smile of the pine trees….
Between the moments, a breath. And then another. And I’ll re-read lines from a journal. And I’ll scour my body for light. I’ll turn up with hands full of ash. And perhaps, for once, I’ll remember Faith, I’ll remember the cycles and I’ll take the ash, smear it on my face, and dance.
Perhaps. I’ll remember the Other-than-myself.
And then. Perhaps.