It’s been so long, I think I may have forgotten how to do this . . .
I’m sitting here, telling myself “just pick a topic and go.” But that in itself is the problem. I have an abundance of raw and uncultivated fodder, and the prospect of culling the relevant and essential from the “stuff that makes me me” is moderately overwhelming. I’ve never been very good at narrowing down things. I imagine most writers contend with this persnickety character trait. Or is it just me?
When I sit down to write a scene that hasn’t quite developed, but rather spotted my imagination with colorful gems of potentiality, I can’t help but swoon, moaning, “Oh, the possibilities!” This results in a milieu of mundane and bizarre tactics and responses.
A) Check my Twitter
B) Stare at the computer screen and wait for genius to strike
C) Get a glass of water
D) Check my Facebook
E) Make a snack
F) Check my e-mail
G) Give myself a short pep-talk: “Come on, it’s easy — just write something, anything, doesn’t matter what, just write. Writewritewritewritewritewritewritewrite.”
H) Realize I’ve had a small, but nonetheless stunting, mental break
I) Practice cathartic pacing and breathing, all the while still actively engaged in tactic “G.”
As you can see, things can quickly escalate and get out of hand over here. I find that a picture helps to ground my thoughts. A friend of mine shared this photo on Facebook last week. I liked it so much that I posted it on my own page. Then I sat there for a bit, just looking at the words, the message depicted, and eventually spoke the words aloud.
This quote resembles The Serenity Prayer, something I have often reflected and prayed silently in the midst of stress and trials. I repeat it as often as necessary. The words are powerful, but there is a danger posed in anything that becomes habit. Words once meaningful and powerful become perfunctory and vacant. If you have a mantra or something you’ve gone to the trouble of framing, whether it be a quote, picture, or memento, chances are you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes seeing your golden ticket daily can diminish its potency.
So while there exists great power in words, the truth is, it’s a lot like lighting a match and forgetting to ignite the object in which will illuminate the room. You’re holding the key, but lack the sense to open the lock. Words, beliefs, values — these are passive. You must be active; you must put these concepts to work in your life. Knowing animal cruelty is wrong is a start, but essentially purposeless if you’re not going to actually do something about it. Same goes for everything else, emotions most certainly withstanding.
I am guilty of this charge; of knowing, believing, understanding, but lacking the sense to take action. It would be no understatement if I said that I have felt slayed by life recently. Beyond the reach of my fingertips, I ceased to venture. Not selfishly exactly, but a prisoner of my own devices. Consumed. I cannot think of another time when the entirety of my faith was tested in such a comprehensive manner. Undone: that is the best word I can think of to sum up the effects of recent events. Despair, hopelessness, and melancholy ruled proprietarily, executing the possibility of freedom at every turn.
Through my experiences, I have been inspired to write about it. Disorders and pre-exisiting conditions aside, the number one cause of depression in any given individual is the feeling that we are alone and unique in our suffering. It is the Great Deceiver.
What comes of this writing, I do no know; it may be book, or it may simply be a sequence of posts, but I know I must share what has transpired. For now, however, I am finished speaking about these things. After a certain point it begins to cause damage. Maybe you will have experienced something similar: in your heart, you yearn to move forward and move on, but somehow, against all efforts the conversation inevitably turns to the “issue,” and an hour later, you realize it’s the only thing you’ve thought or talked about. Makes it very difficult to move on — more like running in place. With one leg. Wearing a high-heel. While juggling scythes. You get the idea . . .
So, an active response is the only way to move forward.
There was this moment — I’m hoping I might remember it with more clarity when I sit down to unravel the strands of thoughts cloaking my brain — where the words were no longer habitual or vacant, but alive, really alive! I could see them, hear them, taste them, and feel them. Let go of what you cannot change. Suddenly, it was as if a film had been pulled back, revealing the startling accuracy of these words, to which they collided with understanding. I had to let go. Holding on to worry, fear, even curiosity would never amount to anything fruitful in my life. You and I, we have limited say in what befalls us. As my wise husband likes to say: “our bodies are in a constant state of deterioration.” These words are brutally true. With age comes wisdom and beauty, and so many wonderful moments and memories. But this ephemeral existence also promises the other side of life. There will be pain, there will be heartache, and there will be suffering of every kind. Because we are human, this will affect us; we will be pulled down and brought to darkness’ door. But . . . we don’t have to walk inside. We have the power to leave. To say, “this is out my control.” And in doing that, really, actually, thoroughly doing that, we will come out the other side, richer, fuller and more compassionate beings. I’ll take that over despondency any day, how about you?
We can be controlled, or we can relinquish it, but we cannot be its master. I share all of this, because I trust that I am not the first and only one to be subverted by my own two hands. My hope is that, if you are currently, or come to be in the future, slayed by life, you will remember this:
One of the Happiest moments in life, is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.