Sunday, September 21, 2014

Do we ever get good at this?

I've got that writer's block thing going again.  The issue isn't that I don't have anything to say, it's that I have too much to say, and I don't have enough time or energy to write it all, so my brain starts putting all this pressure on me.  "You only have an hour to write, you better make it good the first time around," she says.  Perfection, who likes to think she's my muse, perches herself on my shoulder and whispers sweet, sweet vitriol into my ear, giving me a heavy finger on the backspace key and preventing anything from being written.  Anne Lamott sometimes strikes me as a one-trick pony, but she was right about that one thing: if you're going to be a writer, you've gotta write some shitty first drafts.

I'm thinking, particularly, about the fact that I have done not even a quarter of what I was supposed to do this weekend, and how I am still completely exhausted.  I'm thinking about how this fact is making me anxious and annoyed with myself, and how I still sat down to write anyway.  I'm thinking about how, sometimes, the simplest decisions are the hardest to make, and how sometimes, we have to make decisions on issues that have no answers.  I'm thinking about the fine line between "clueless" and "cruel," and how sometimes, it's harder than one might expect to figure which side of the line a person falls on.  I'm thinking about trust and what it means and if I can do it and when.  I'm thinking about how these things are related, and how some people will not understand that struggle, and I'm thinking about what a privilege that is. 

Andrea Gibson says, "Safety is not always safe / You can find one on every gun / I am aiming to do better."  She's right.  I am trying to take aim. 

I'm thinking about our bodies and how we take care of them - or don't - and the ways they work - or don't...and particularly about my body, and the way I take care of it - or fail to - and the ways it works - or doesn't.  I'm thinking about the families we are born into and the families we make for ourselves.  I'm thinking about how I feel so much older than my 28 years and how, for a few moments earlier today, I felt so much younger.  I'm thinking about how strange and frightening that was. 

And I'm also thinking about how my neighbors have been running some motor out there for the last 30 minutes, and it's the loudest thing ever, and it's messing with my shitty first draft.  Don't they know I have some shitty writing to do?  Seriously.

I'm thinking about the truth in Naomi Shihab Nye's words: "Sometimes I live in a hurricane of words / and not one of them can save me."  I'm realizing this is truth, and that is also what I'm looking for in writing tonight.  Saving, I mean.  It's what I am hoping will happen that will either enable me to sleep restfully or finish the work that needs to be done.  I don't really believe in saviors or saving or being saved.  I also think it can't hurt to hope for that every now and then.

I'm thinking about breathing, and how that is some of what my body needs.  My body is angry at my brain, and breath is the best mediator.  I'm lucky to have her on my side.   

I'm thinking about how self-care is so very challenging.  I've written about it before -- about the word "deserve," and being "deserving" or "undeserving" of self-care.  I've written about the challenge in making it happen, and the guilt associated with it.  I've confronted it time and time again, but I can't seem to tame the beast.  Seems like every time I try to ride the animal, she bucks me off before I can even get fully on board.  "Ha!" she laughs.  Not for you!  Try again later." 

How do we support one another in this task?  How do we -- the helpers -- how do we take care of ourselves, and support one another in doing the same?  Is it possible?  Or is it simply a path we must walk on our own?

I'm thinking about how hard it is to get others to stop and listen.  I'm thinking about how it is mostly hard because I don't start talking.  I'm thinking about the trust it takes to start the conversation, and how words like worthiness and deserving and trusting are clear in my head, but their wires cross in my heart.  I'm wondering what it would be like to live this life with a little less heart.  It sounds like a good idea.  I realize that is not possible. 

I'm remembering a poem by Anthony Machado which asks: "What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?"  My garden - it needs a little weeding.  A little water.  Some TLC.  Perhaps this is where it starts.

Do we ever get good at this?  We with the too-big hearts and complicated lives and histories and sensitive ways of being in the we ever get good at this? 

1 comment:

  1. Yes. I think we get good, but it is a good that comes in moments and glimpses because we can still really, really suck at it! Even the people I admire most for being full-hearted and empathic and really good at self-care have those times when all is off kilter and they crash for a bit. I think we need to look at the crashes as little gifts - like a sign that we need to shift the gifts they give to themselves. I hope your writing, Laura, is as much a gift to your self as it is to my self. Thank you.