HEALING, FORGIVING, WRITING
HEALING, FORGIVENESS, WRITING
Healing doesn't happen in a straight line. It’s not definitive like that. We get sick, the worst of it passes, we think we’re better, we feel sick again, we have chicken soup, take naps and then one day, we realize we’ve been feeling good for a while and we hardly noticed. Healing is a unpredictable journey as we ride the waves, the ups and downs, the calm waters and the turbulence and finally we level off – until something else takes us down for a while and off we go again.
Forgiveness doesn't happen in a straight line. It's not definitive like that. We get angry, we feel betrayed, we try to meditate and think kind thoughts, we get a respite for a while, the anger returns, our heart feels heavy and then we feel it lighten up again. Forgiveness isn’t an event. It’s a practice. We don't just forgive and forget. We work on it every day, we ride the ups and downs, until one day, we realize we haven’t been angry for a while. Forgiveness is an unpredictable journey as we ride the waves of anger and release and finally we level off – until someone does something else we don't like and off we go again.
Good writing doesn’t happen in a straight line. We get an idea, we start to write about it, we get blocked, we water the plants, we make a few phone calls, we find an opening sentence, we throw something down on the page, we hate, we edit it, we feel embarrassed about it and then we decide it isn’t so bad. Writing is an unpredictable journey as we ride the waves of acceptance and shame and pride in what we accomplished – until we get to the next chapter and the process starts all over again.
Whatever life throws at us, whatever we do to cope, patience is always the answer. We have to slow down, cool off and practice taking things as they come. How many times have you had a brainstorm, rushed to the computer, put your hands on the keyboard – and then nothing? If we get up and leave, we call writer’s block. If we stay and find some patience, we call it a breakthrough. Your inspiration will come on its own time, not yours, so you might as well maintain a good attitude. I don't think you can wait patiently. If you're patient, you’re present and free from expectation. If you’re waiting, you're in the future, a frustrating place to be.
Pema Cbodron says, “Patience is the training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed.”
Things don't happen fast enough for us. It’s hard to wait for a phone call. It’s hard to be in a traffic jam on the freeway. It’s hard to wait for the server to bring our order to the table. It’s hard to heal, to forgive and to write. When I face the blank page, I don't expect perfection. I just start putting down words with no particular structure or topic in mind. I let them spill out and let my hands fly on the keyboard with no connecting threads or tidy segues. But I stay patient. I don't wait for something better to come, I stay with what I have and pretty soon, inspiration comes knocking at my door.
Maya Angelou said, What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.” And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”
She’s talking about patience, not waiting. She’s talking about a journey, not a straight line. The longer you live, the more familiar you become with the lifts and dips that occur. In his magnificent song, “Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen wrote this about music:
“It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth,
The minor falls, the major lifts.”
The more you write, the more you become familiar with the falls and the lifts that carry your words through the atmosphere. The journey is always different. One day, the words pour onto the page. The next day they squeeze out, one at a time. And on the next, they hide in your subconscious and refuse to appear. But with patience, eventually it all evens out and you start to believe you can do it.
That’s when the satisfaction comes. Not at the end. It comes with the path along the way, as we machete our way through the dense hallways of our minds and we find a clearing in front of us. We breathe, we slow down, we feel the stress dissipate and we are grateful we can get up tomorrow and do it all over again.
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