Writing is always the first thing to go when I'm stressed. It's been two weeks since I've written, and I've given up on either berating or encouraging myself. Even my bargaining has been half-assed, insincere. I know it's a matter of I'll do it or not. Writing helps me think, helps me slow down, gives a direction to my errant thoughts during the day. When I'm writing regularly, there is a certain part of my brain that is activated, and it keeps buzzing, nourished by the small jolts it gets when my fingers tap out over and over on the keyboard. A window in my soul opens up, and something within wakens, stretches out and waits. Left alone, and the erratic buzz flickers, the bulb in my brain dims, the window in my soul darkens, airless, unmoving curtains at the window limply idle. If writing is so great, then why do I ever stop?
Ususally, what stops me is fear, my eternal answer to the "why not?" Being that open invites vulnerability, leaves my heart unlocked which feels unsafe. Stress sends blood shooting through my veins, pumping harder, heart racing. Clamping down and shutting out is soothing.
Sometimes though, what stops me from writing is simply this: life gets too big to handle, and there's too much to put on the page. I get overwhelmed.
In my currently jobless state, I've been happy with how balanced I've felt. Each day has been a struggle, but the net result has been positive. There's been time to look for a job, take classes at the career center, go swimming in the afternoon, walk the dog, spend time with my friends, play with the new kittens, update my resume and even engage in some dreaded networking. I didn't realize how unstable this jenga pile of responsibilities was, how all I needed was one big, blocky, ugly shaped piece to bring it all down around me. That piece was my grandmother's death, and all events associated with it. I wrote a rememberance for her that I read at her funeral, words that weren't appropriate for this forum. People praised me for reading what I'd written, and while I appreciated their kind words, it made me profoundly uncomfortable. I'd written it as a penance of sorts to her, conjuring up the very best of our relationship, the parts that were easy and lovely and wonderful. What I left out was why I squirmed under others' praise. I didn't visit or call her enough, wasn't kind enough or forgiving enough, didn't give her the care she'd given so many others. I had chosen not to engage on some levels, and was now bereft of that opportunity. So my words, fucking words that she would never hear, felt meaningless and small. How could I come back here and whine about not having a job?
So I fell into a small hole of inactivity, worrying about how my living situation might change, as the property that I'm renting belonged to my grandmother, and might be sold. I spent two days not talking to anyone, watching tv, eating too much ice cream, and worrying my boyfriend. And then I got back up and started looking for a job again. I'd lost a week of productive job-related activities, and needed to catch back up on life, looming huge in front of me, a stark white billboard in front of me, brightly lit, reading: UNCERTAINTY in black capital letters.
Life will always be bigger than writing. Writing sometimes feels like a weak attempt to corral the unmanageable and give it shape. Other times, when it works, when it's real, when it matters, it transforms the raw data of life, shining a light into the darkest places and illuminating the day to day of living.