Sunday, July 10, 2011

So I Write

Each morning, I write. Some mornings I write to you. Some, I write to people long gone. Some, I respond to Jenny's prompts and some, I just let my thoughts take me wherever they will. On the rare morning, all the above are served in a single exercise.

Each morning I write. As I write, I relax into myself.

That sounds a bit funny ("relax into myself"), but that's what it feels like to me. When I first wake up, I often feel as though the inner me is racing up and down my body, searching for an exit, trying push its way out. My body stiffens and contracts trying to keep me in. New thoughts and ideas assault my mind like rush-hour commuters passing a slow moving vehicle seeking an exit but trapped in the center lane on the Garden State Parkway. From the moment I first open my eyes to the moment my eyelids have have fully retracted, everything inside me accelerates from a dead stop to full motion. It can be, well, a bit overwhelming.

So, I write.

As I write, a calm ensues. The thoughts slow down and behave as though a state trooper just pulled into the lane behind them. The inner pulsing and pressing against potential exit points ceases. I breathe and suddenly everything inside me quiesces.

I relax into myself.

Why is that? My first thought is, expression. All discord, internal or external, stems from an inability to express: opinions, beliefs, needs, wants, ideas, what's going on inside. The inability may stem from skill and capacity (e.g., "I don't know how to say this, but..."), or it may be externally imposed (e.g., "You better not say..."). Nonetheless, whenever we can't express ourselves, we feel a sense of frustration. It's not because we haven't been heard (though that can be frustrating), it's because we haven't expressed.

What's the difference. Well, to express is to give form to something that has none. It's the articulation of abstract thought in a concrete medium, e.g., words, music, paint, sculpture or woodcraft. Whether or not anyone ever reads our words or listens to our music or admires our sculpture is of a second order. The first order is to give a form to something that is evasive, unclear, scattered or ephemeral. In that translation, we find peace.

In that way, I believe writing is much like prayer, the only difference being attribution of authorship. When we pray (not the grace at dinner kind of prayer, but the soul-searching type of prayer), we find clarity and a sense of purpose. We find answers. However, we attribute these not to the process of praying, but to the one to whom we pray.

I used to get up every morning and pray. Seek god. Gain understanding. Find meaning.

Now, I write.

Happy Sunday,

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