Writing When You Can't Write

It’s a bit like cleaning up a mess.  That one there.  A big pile of clothes on the chair in my room.  Some of them need to be hung back up.  Some need folding and to be put in a drawer.  Undies and gym clothes to the wash.  Wednesday’s mail needs to get out of the mound and go to the desk pile for further action.

 

Over there, in that corner of my room, behind the chair is a window into the back yard and it’s cloudy and early out there.  I am not compelled, I don’t want to go out there.  But I don’t want to be in here with all the mess.

 

That’s what it feels like to write when I can’t write.

 

I have been reading about our brains and neuroplasticity and while it’s all fascinating (and fortunate for some of us) the way the brain can heal itself, it is also a little disconcerting to know how malleable we actually are.   That not only “we are what we eat” but “we are what we think” too.

 

And I mention this here because that is how that pile of clothes and crap got bigger and bigger over there on the chair.  I didn’t feel good one evening when I changed out of my day clothes and put on play clothes so the day clothes got thrown on the chair.  And I didn’t feel much better when it was bedtime so the play clothes got added to the pile.  From there, the pile started to attract shirts and socks and mail, whatever I didn’t feel like dealing with at the time got classified as belonging in the pile.

 

And so it goes inside me.

 

The piles of dirty clothes and mail, thoughts and feelings and noticings, they clump together, sending off a stay away vibe.  The longer I stay away, the bigger the pile gets and the harder it is to want to go near it.

 

But here’s the other thing – I always end up going near it.  Eventually, I don’t want my room to be such a mess or I want to wear a shirt that’s in the pile or I know I got a letter from the insurance company marked Open Immediately.

And once I am near it, it is not so much of an effort to pick up the gray pants and slide them over a hanger.  As I pull them out of the pile, a blue fuzzy Smartwool sock falls out onto the carpet, nearly begging to be sent to the wash.  I know there’s another one in there, I reach my hand in and root around for it and the sorting is begun.

 

And so it goes today.  I need writing as a way to sort through myself, to see what’s new, what’s the same, what’s up for grabs.  And if I don’t know how to begin or I don’t know where to begin, I can always go to the chair and write about writing.