My body is melting into a seat at a local cafe in Scottsdale. I’m 45 minutes away from my home and my office, which currently share the same location. That’s a lot of movement for one address. These little ‘out of the city’ excursions are my way of easing restlessness when I’ve been working way too much under the same roof.
This is a new place I recently discovered, and it-is-fantastic! There’s a little row of urban-style shops, mixed in with high end clothing stores that dot the space around the the Biltmore Hotel. This afternoon I’ll spend an hour or so taking it all in, probably not purchasing, and then I’ll be back here in this seat doing what I came to do…write.
Writing brings me back to myself. It’s my secret, I-never-do-this-enough pleasure. Some people hate it and I can’t figure out why. They claim they can’t spell or don’t know what to say, but Windows will hold your hand with spell check, and when you start talking to yourself (about yourself) on paper, you never seem to stop. It’s narcissistic, maybe. Cathartic, definitely.
Ten years ago I began to write my first book, which started as this pile of loose pages in a black binder that I got for $1.99 at Walgreen’s. I’m sure it looked like any ordinary binder, but this particular one had my journey of coming out of self-hatred inside of it.
You see, in my younger years, I was a self-loather that dated (and almost married) depression. I began writing as a college drop out who had no life purpose other than what had been handed to me by others. Inside, I felt I was nothing. And I had the plans to show for it. One day I had the feeling to write about the misery I was feeling inside and I never stopped.
Day after day, page after page, I put my wild, untamed thoughts down on paper. As black letters spilled across white sheets of paper, something very unplanned began to happen. Something I did not expect, and did not even know at that time in my life, was possible.
A different part of me started to show up. Behind the negative, sad person I was inside, an older, kinder, much wiser version of me started to emerge. This was the first time I actually NOTICED my own thinking and I was totally surprised, shocked, at how negative and destructive I had been to myself for so long. Eventually the “nice lady” started taking over my thoughts and started running more of the show. (not without a fight.)
It’ almost as though scribbling it down allowed me to get all the junk out. Those thoughts were like mold growing inside a very old house. It was in there everyday, hidden, breeding, and making me sick, but I couldn’t see it, but writing exposed the disease. As I got it all down on paper, it allowed enough of a space to clear so that something higher could come forward.
The Nice Lady was fun. She was funny,too, and she laughed at my silly declarations of unworthiness. She thought we could do great things. And most of all, to my tremendous relief, she liked me–no, loved me. And I learned to love myself in the process. (yes, I have seen a psychologist and no, I have not been diagnosed with multiple personalities
I think we can get to the real truth through writing about our experiences, faster than thinking about them because thoughts come too fast and they are so influenced by our conditioning. It seems that most of them spring right up out our crusty old mental programs–and there’s nothing insightful or creative about that. Our minds have tens of thousands of thoughts spiraling through our head like javelins in a hurricane and it’s hard to see clearly in a storm.
Speakingand sharing with others can sometimes challenge our honesty, because if we are talking to another person, we are most likely censoring, in large or small ways Unless we have very very safe friends who can remain 100% neutral and without opinions, as well as be unconditionally accepting, we are unknowingly influencing what we share. We have a core need to accepted and we don’t want people to see us standing in our most vulnerable rooms, totally naked.
But writing…writing is where we can tell the whole truth about our condition. We write for ourselves because we are the ones that matter the most in the equation. The original text is not for other people, though we sometimes share pieces later–we write to come home so we know what’s up in our own lives.
Writing also allows us to slow life down enough to dip into the deeper veins of knowledge waiting to be discovered if we’d just give it a little more time and attention.It slows us down enough to see that our lives unfold frame by frame.
I love it when life slows down. I love sitting on this bench with nowhere to go and my to-do list resting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I love the faint smell of rain that just blew through here. I didn’t notice that before.
I didn’t come here to get something done today–I came here to get undone, to BE. Writing helps us make love to the moment as though it’s all we have and when we experience that, we find ourselves wrapped totally inside the romance of the most simple things. Slow motion reveals what high speed can never show. Placing a kiss on the cheek of your child is an event. When his fingers brush your forearm and your heart flutters while your body raises with intrigue–that’s epic.
I have often not had the patience for writing, because I was scared of it– I was scared to experience my life that deeply. And I was fooled thinking that satisfaction, that real achievement was in winning the next race, instead of right here in front of me. Yet, when I look closely, I can see it in the brilliant, ordinary splendor of my current life.
I can see that real achievement — is to experience my own being. This is a uncommon accomplishment that few enjoy (and there’s nothing to win here, but your own life back.)
For me, writing is what brought me home to my real self over ten years ago, and I’m still using that tool to cut through different versions of a falsehood that try to invade me even today.
But I always know if I get lost in self-despair like I did ten years ago, or over achievement like I did ten minutes ago, I can find my way again.