Until recently, most of the writing I’ve done in my life has come during times of personal difficulty. Back when I was more faithful with keeping a journal, writing was therapy. I poured my heart and soul out onto the page, spilling my secret thoughts, desires, and struggles in an effort to rid myself of them. No stone, whether boulder or pebble, was left unturned.
By putting a pen to paper I was performing an act of release both physical and spiritual. And always it transformed me.
I can say the same for most of the poetry I’ve written. So much of it emerged from trying to process a powerful or painful experience, when writing about it in literal terms felt overwhelming. Condensing something down into a poem allowed me to express it but also shape it, and regain control or find the lesson, I think, from an otherwise uncontrollable event.
Consequently, I’d long ago arrived at the conclusion that it’s actually necessary for me to have negative experiences to write. After all, a little shit makes a garden grow well. So maybe sometimes it needs a lot.
During those times in life when I’ve felt really happy, content, or generally in a good place, I never wrote as much. I was glad to just enjoy the moment when there wasn’t any angst to work my way through, or a dramatic, life-altering experience happening. Although it was a state that usually seemed a bit strange or suspicious to me, I was always grateful for its appearance.
Especially for creative (and perhaps overly sensitive) types like myself, I think it’s a very good thing to get a break from the turmoil, the noise, whether short or long, and rest the inner demons for awhile.
Of course, bad things happen to everyone, and so much worse has happened to others instead of me. But everyone’s pain is relative, I think. We can only ever physically feel our own. Those things that happen to us become our stories, ones we tell ourselves over and over, for good or ill. Sometimes we can get stuck there, until no other outcome seems possible.
Writing had become my way of telling myself my own stories, either confirming or denying them, sorting through the often torrid details, looking for clues in all the tangled events, trying to unearth some insight and grow from it all.
But I am glad to say, I believe that is changing.
Nowadays I find myself writing from a more settled place, with a better sense of perspective on all that’s gone before. I’m still interested in exploring the inner terrain, with all its peaks and valleys, what’s been and what’s to come. However, I feel like this time I’m more prepared for the journey. And ready to share a little more of it, with the hope others might find their way, too.
I’d like to think this newfound state is a sign I’ve at last learned some of the big lessons the universe has been repeatedly sending me. But I also know, it’s usually right when you think you have something figured out that life surprises you.
Writing after all, can be like that, too.
So I will proceed with cautious optimism, a phrase I appreciate and that I’m learning to embrace more these days. I’m looking forward to seeing how it changes me, my writing, my poetry, and my other creative pursuits. Although I doubt there’s any danger of me turning into a Pollyanna (where’s the fun in that, really?), it certainly might be nice to lighten the load a bit, and get a feel for where this road is heading.