Fear. Of writing. Who would have thought? I walk in the door each night, tired. Tired from balancing social life and work, stuck here again in a different atmosphere, listening for a new balance.
Maybe it’s the post-MFA blues. Did anyone ever tell me about this? For two years my only responsibility was to be a writer. Write. Just do it. You’re a student again.
I remember my first year of graduate school, I swung open the doors of the library, lusting. Bursting forth with love and satisfaction that I was a full-time student of poetry. How much can I accomplish, how hard can I work. And wow. I worked. 13 hours a day in a library researching, following whatever paths the library gods gave me. Go home, go for a run and write again. After a year of working post-undergrad, I was set free and licked the spines of books like long lost lovers.
Two years and a full book manuscript later, I am back trying to find balance again. Finding myself having to “work” again in the “real world.” Somehow it feels like falling. But deaths are a good thing. Small deaths, rebirthing something I have yet to see.
Circles. I believe in them. I swear by them. Sometimes they scare me, though. My sister once told me she had a phobia of circles. She just couldn’t look at them. Or she’d count them. I get that. I count things, too. Like steps. Stones. Numbers. A way to control, perhaps, or find signs in the mundane? But circles teach us something. Cycles love to hang on your waist and cling to you, whispering: A time for everything.
So with this in mind, I try to remember what it was like after leaving my undergraduate degree, heading into the 9-5 grind. At first, I was downtrodden. I remember I’d cry driving home from work, get into bed, and sleep. I had no energy for anything. But then I found my groove. Work. Go home. Workout. Go to Borders and self-study. Read poetry. Write. Go to sleep. Repeat. And the words came back to me. And then graduate school happened.
Funny, the joy and enthusiasm with which I wrote might have been even more pure during that year of working full time than before I entered graduate school. I was writing for the joy of it. I wasn’t thinking of workshops or literary journals. I was me, rediscovering the little girl who wrote in journals on rooftops to her angels as the sun set over West Texas.
I know I’ll find my groove again. But darkness and fear has a way of overtaking you, especially when you being feeling like you’re a “professional” who needs to be “out there” and “networking.”
But there’s a larger picture in all of this. I think I see it coming.
I walk through the door and fear overtakes me. Why have I shied away from my love? Words. I know I haven’t spent the same amount of time with you, but I’m trying. Fear.
Why have you abandoned me? I ask the ceiling. Not You, but your spirit.
I was having dinner with a friend tonight and she was telling me about how, in just three days, every plan she had set for her life had disintegrated before her eyes. Three days. I kept thinking, the number lover that I am, that three is quiet significant. She said,
I’m just angry.
Our plans, our hopes. They seem, at so many times in our lives, to abandon us. Our words, our creativity, our schedules. Control. Count things. Circle things.
So I began talking about our minds. How we can’t see the larger picture. But something better than we even dreamed is in the works for us, and we don’t even know it. Deaths happen to renew. So interesting that even the disembodied die, too. Things unseen pass away without ever reaching conception. Ideas die.
But how we move through the day, displacing air and currents we can’t see, which reach out to hold another’s hand whom we don’t know.
Something is waiting for us.
Can I say I’m being held? That my friend is being held? Yes. Do I always have faith in that? No.
Words. Why have you abandoned me?
I want to say, God, You have abandoned me, too.
But silence. Stillness.
We can’t always be called to action. And our ideas for our life, our dreams, sometimes they do not have our name written on their bodies. Perhaps another idea, another dream, is waiting. New words are waiting.
And it takes us dying to ideas, to schedules, to see that.
Control is an illusion.
Still, I walk into the room in fear. Because the words are not coming, the flow is not there. My time, schedule, life is in upheaval.
I don’t want to be silent or still. I don’t want to wait.
I had a dream last night, and I usually don’t speak of my dreams or attempt to interpret them, but I think this one was rather interesting.
I was getting ready for my wedding. I don’t know anything other than I was running around, trying to find my clothes, my plans, for the wedding, reception, honeymoon. But my mother was no help. She hadn’t planned anything, and neither had I. It was like a shotgun wedding and nothing was prepared. No plans. Nothing. I remember feeling frustrated and sad that I hadn’t taken the time to make it the event it deserved to be.
Interesting. Perhaps the wedding is coming, and I have to trust in that. Wedding could be my next big break, or simply the “conception” and “coming together” of another flow of creative outburst. Who knows. But I think the dream was trying to teach me that I couldn’t have everything and be everything and write everything NOW.
My friend said, You know, after those three days of all my plans for my immediate future just flew out the window, I felt a strange piece. A centeredness. Something inside me said, “Welcome back.”
Deaths bring us closer to what matters.
Personally, I equate my writing with my connection to my spirit, to God. When I’m creatively flowing, I feel close to my source. But sometimes, I get so caught up in the product and in the enjoyment and fulfillment I get from being “used” that I forget the process. The stillness. The waiting.
I’ve recently been reading the Book of Job. I came across this verse:
“Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. –Job 6:24
And wow. I can’t even begin to fathom how hard that must be. Actually, I think I am beginning to realize it now. Isn’t it hard to be quiet? When we want something, when it comes to our lives, our dreams, what we think we need or want or desire, isn’t it so difficult to wait? To be quiet? Not only that, but “show me where I have been wrong.”
You don’t have to be spiritual to see how this verse applies in the many times in life we have to sit back and reevaluate. When things go wrong, or plans get messed up, isn’t it hard to look at the past, try to see beyond, see the bigger picture and say, OK, this didn’t work out, or this isn’t’ working out. Where have I been wrong? I can be still. I can be silent, and wait.
NO! I want to change things now! I want to know. I want the creativity to come back. I want the job. I want. I need.
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” –Luke 1:80
The above verse is describing Jesus’ childhood, before he became a rabbi, a prophet, what have you.
And I always loved this line. Because I love the idea of going into the desert. Of seclusion. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and, like I had while in grad school, free time alone to write and meditate seems to be the closest thing to heaven that I could think of. And I want. And I need.
But what if the stillness, the “time in the desert” is without creativity? Without the words? In fact, IN FEAR of words? Would I still want it? Would I still find new ways to grow, to look at the situation and say, OK, what have I been doing wrong?
But most importantly, what is this experience teaching me?
We want what we want when we want it.
How selfish of us.
I was crying last night. Despairing that
a) I haven’t written anything in weeks.
b) I don’t know where my life is headed or what job I’ll have
c) I haven’t had enough alone time
But I realized, what is this time teaching me? What can I be grateful for?
I’ve made new friends. I’ve really connected to some amazing people.
And I’m being held. Whether I want to see it or not, I am being held.
People stop in and support me. Send me links to help me find jobs, apartments, or just to send an encouraging word. I’ve given myself time to make new friends, and converse and help old friends. I’m making and sending new creations in ways I don’t even know, in someone else’s life. The end product I may never see. So I’m not writing. But I’m still creating.
In the car, on my lunch break from work, hungry and lonely for library life, I stole 30 minutes to read some poetry and mystical writing.
Today it was this snippet from “The Essential Kabbalah”
Everything you do is an act of creation, striking the holy sparks. And when you realize this, you’ll see, even the mundane of tasks is serving a holy purpose.
I remember looking down at my feet. Wiggling my toes. Then looking at the pine tree by the parking lot and thinking, I don’t want to do mundane tasks. I want to create art! I don’t want to fear words anymore for lack of coming to me!
But I wiggled my toes. Imagined waves dispersing from them.
Time. You circle. Round my waist. Remind me that there’s a time for everything.
In my car tonight, I listened to one of my favorite songs by Meredith Andrews called, Deeper. I particularly love these lines:
Take me through the desert places
For the chance to see your face and
Take me past the breaking waves
To feel the depth of your embrace.
Now, maybe the “face” and maybe the “embrace” is simply someone’s peace. Or someone’s dream, fulfilled. Their deepest desires and hopes. For me, it is both that and also the feeling of being connected to Spirit. To God. It’s so married to my concept of creativity and feeling creative, feeling used. And yes. I’d go to the desert for that chance. I’d do anything for it. But what if the desert-place is silent. What if it takes a while to be “used” or to see our dreams manifest? Can I still wait? Be silent? Have faith that what the Universe wants for me is even better than what I could conceive? Can I move past the fear, the little deaths, or, more importantly, come to peace and accept them?
And I end with this. A picture a friend of mine snapped on her way to Franklin Park to read her wonderful poetry. (It’s a sign that reads: The Divine Unlimited Sanctuary of God). Kind of funny, She said “It felt like seeing a cosmic metro card swiping down from the sky.”
I saw it and thought:
1) My body
2) Unlimited God-flow
3) Wait. I have that! Access all the time!
I was reminded of the passage I read today in the car. That everything we do, even the mundane tasks, is an act of creation.