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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

There Can Be No Lotus

I don’t even know where to begin.  I have so much to share, so many stories, perceptions, and interpretations I need to convey and they’re just pin-balling around in my brain so quickly I can’t hang on to one concept for long enough to compose anything worth reading.  I’m stuck in the mud.

And that right there is the problem.   I’m already judging it before it’s even formed into a remotely recognizable shape in my brain; the stories can’t form themselves because I already assume they’re not worthy of form in the first place.
We all know writing can be hard, but it’s the vulnerability that is extremely hard.  I’m friends with some extremely intelligent people.  Not only am I afraid of judgment from others about the contents of the writing, which is raw and exposing, but also about the actual quality of the writing itself. 

Nothing I’ve said so far is news to anyone who’s written anything or thought about writing something.  However, no one really talks much about the process of finding a way to do it anyway.  I’m not talking the generic sort of, “I was scared but I did it anyway” bullshit.  Yeah, I get that.  I do that all the time.  I share stories that let people momentarily peek into the horror of my mental illness.  I VOLUNTARILY share this, people.  Do you think it’s easy?  The self-criticism I experience is stifling (see first paragraph above).  Do you think I don’t feel terrified every time I click “post”?  Generic encouragement now makes my eyes roll.  What I’m interested in, what truly encourages me, are the stories and detailed descriptions of the self-doubt sludge that slides through you as you attempt to do anything important or anything that makes you vulnerable.  Rarely do I hear about these inner most judgmental voices from others, rarely do I get to discuss the exact form of terror they experience as they take a chance.  I want people to describe the sticky goo of fear and judgment that tries to squish them into the perceived safety of the status quo.  Sure, most people will admit to having self-doubt and judgment, but what does that look like for each individual?  You’ve heard the saying, “if it was easy, everyone would do it,” yet the things that make it so hard and so interesting are the things we don’t discuss.  I want to hear people’s own unique experiences when it comes to actually putting something out into the world.
I’m guessing that if you’re reading this now, you experience times when you’re frozen because your rain boots are stuck in the thick mud of self-judgment.  I want to hear that shit.  I want to pull myself up so I’m standing next to you, face and hands covered in that mud.  I want to laugh at ourselves and at the ridiculousness of our own judgments which we take so seriously.  I know people don’t like to feel vulnerable, but every time you are you’ll find a large group of people nearby thinking, “oh thank you.  I feel the same.  I thought I was the only one.”  Moreover, that’s the really good stuff!  That’s the stuff that makes you interesting, that gives others an incredible amount of insight into who you are, and also gives you the opportunity to feel less alone in the world.  Let’s encourage each other to be interesting, productive, creative, kind, people by sharing this stuff with each other; whether you share it teary-eyed over whiskey or through a self-deprecating humorous anecdote, just share your story.

As for my writing, maybe I need to accept that I’m stuck in the mud for now and remind myself that I always find my way out eventually.  Besides, in the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “There can be no lotus flower without the mud.”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Tiny Paragraph of Hope

Yesterday, for the first time in over a year, I caught tiny glimpses of my Self, like rays of sunlight that break though the shadows of trees as you drive down the highway.  They started when I was looking at myself in the bathroom mirror at work.  As I was fluffing my French-looking hair in the mirror, I imagined myself in the bathroom of a Parisian restaurant.  For just a tiny moment it was as if the veil of illness caught the wind and I felt my Self peak through.  I tried not to overthink it or make a big deal out of it in case I scared my Self away, but the glimpses kept happening throughout the day.  Tiny rays of light.

Don’t misunderstand the meaning of "rays of light"; they aren’t the same as happiness.  I have had moments, even hours, of happiness during this phase of illness but they aren’t the same as feeling like my Self.  Inversely, I am not always happy when I feel like my Self, but there is something about the consciousness that changes when the veil of illness lifts.  I can see clearly again.  For now, it comes in tiny glimpses but maybe, just maybe, it will grow into minutes, hours, days… 

Snail Steps

Snail Steps