In the 10 months since I’ve written a post for this blog, I’ve discovered something truly profound: there are a lot of reasons not to write.
Maybe not exactly profound, but it is true. Since moving to Asia almost a year ago to write other people’s stories, I’ve found it more difficult than I ever have to write my own. If you’d asked me why a few weeks ago, I probably would’ve said something like, “I’m really busy with my new job,” or “I have a lot going on right now,” or “I’m really tired.” All of those things are valid, but none of them cover the full story.
The thing is, I haven’t wanted to tell the full story. The full story is a bit of a downer. The full story is not fun or flashy or positive, and it definitely doesn’t include a list of the “Top 10 Things You Should Do In Thailand” (mostly because there are way more than 10 fun things to do in Thailand and it would be insulting to try and convince you otherwise, but that’s besides the point).
No, my list would be titled: “Top Five Reasons I’ve Avoided Emotional and Artistic Honesty for the Last 10 Months” (sexy, right?) and it would go something like this:
- Moving is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. Never has my tank been more thoroughly and quickly depleted than when I stepped off the plane in Thailand and started rebuilding and redefining everything I knew about everything, and that hasn’t exactly encouraged me to pursue my passions.
- As happens to anyone alive and walking on this earth, I’ve received one or two emotional bruises since I last emptied my thoughts onto a blank computer screen, and my go-to instinct when that happens is to curl into myself and sit in the dark. Alone. No visitors allowed. Because that will protect me from further harm, right? (No, but more on that later).
- I know. It’s the lamest phrase to ever enter the English language, but I really have been busy. Busier than I’ve ever been in my life (funny how that statement always seems to be true), and when my job, family, new relationship, and homework came calling – not to mention trying to learn a new language and culture – expressing myself through writing fell to the bottom of the priority list.
- To create is to be vulnerable, and I may be biased, but I think writing is an especially vulnerable way to create because it stays (just ask me how I feel about the fact that you could, right now, go find things I wrote when I was 18 and thought I knew everything – or when I was 25 and thought I knew everything, for that matter). Not saying it’s right, but when you’re already feeling beat up and beat down, the last thing you want to do is expose yourself even more.
- Did I mention I’m tired?
Don’t all rush off at once to re-tweet and re-post this one; we’re only halfway done, after all. Sheesh.
In all seriousness, it’s not an easy or exciting list to read, and I don’t expect you to be enthralled by it, neither do I want or deserve your pity. So why share it with you? Because of this:
“I only find true freedom when I bring every part of my heart into the light…”
A woman named Christa Black Gifford wrote these words down (Christa, if you ever read this, I would love to buy you a cup of coffee someday), and when I read them a few weeks ago, they broke through every excuse, every wall, every justification ever uttered by my tired mind not to write my story. Because she’s right – however comfortable and safe and uneventful the dark is, it is not where true freedom is found.
Not everyone would agree; some might argue that we lose freedom when we share our stories, and they’re also right. Sometimes, when we start diving into the inner tickings of our heart, we can become their victim. We can allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity, we can create storylines that were never there to begin with, we can become sad, self-absorbed, petty creatures who think we’re more important than we are. I know because I’ve lived it, and I don’t want to go back.
Still (and this is a big still), even though our hearts could drown us if we let them, the opposite – silence, denial, retreat – will kill us too, eventually. For the last 10 months, I’ve lived that reality, and I don’t want to go back. No, there must be a balance between embracing our story and drowning in it, between denying the ugly and dwelling in it, and I think Christa has a point when she says the first step to finding that balance is bringing it all into the light.
The light tells us where the foot of the bed is so we don’t run into it on our midnight trek to the bathroom. An X-ray shines light under our skin so the doctor knows where the broken bone is. Honest conversation sheds light on the things you and your significant other need to work on in the relationship. If we don’t turn the light on, take the X-ray, or speak our mind, what is wrong cannot and will not be made right.
So. In the spirit of making what is wrong right, I want to be honest and tell you the last 10 months have been painful, lonely, busy, exhausting, and yes, most days I’ve chosen to give in to my fears and excuses and not write about it. And that is a shame, because in avoiding the bad, I’ve also avoided the good, and there has been a lot of good in the last 10 months. A lot.
More to come, but in the meantime, go tell your story, the good and the ugly parts. Go try and then fail and then tell someone about it – tell someone about the times you succeed, too, because there will be those times. And for goodness sake, do as I say (not as I do) and turn the lights on when you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Who knows; you may like how the world looks in the light. I know I do.