Write, she said.

By Glenda | February 5, 2014

Write, she said. Write anything. Just write.

Never mind that my fingers are becoming arthritic, that I do not really like the keyboard on this new computer, the touch and feel and pressure required of it. (Is it only writers, “real writers,” which she insists I am, that are so affected by the wrong keyboard, or the need for the right pencil, for just the right situation in which to write? Or is it the other way around, as I suspect, that real writers have to write and will write, with a piece of charred wood if necessary, in the bitterest cold or on a deserted island, just to get something written?)

I used to be that way. I wrote and wrote and wrote, pouring out, sometimes, my thoughts, but mostly my feelings, posting them out to a world I presumed was waiting to receive them, perhaps even, can you imagine, needed them.

Now I hesitate to speak, let alone write. ‘What do I know, what can I say,” I ask myself (too often, perhaps, for my own good).

Once, when I worked in Washington DC for an association that lobbied for liberal trade policies (yes, once I was a registered lobbyist and even an “agent of a foreign power” since the association I worked for had a majority of Japanese members), there was a bit of an office scruffle-up, and I was busily writing a note about my thoughts on it to my superior. My office mate, a quiet and wise Japanese man, said to me, “Never put things into writing that you don’t have to. Writing makes it official, permanent, remembered. In a situation like this, you won’t want your words to be remembered; you will want this situation to end, to be forgotten.”

I think back on that conversation now and realize that I have more or less been adopted by that philosophy in the past few years. I didn’t consciously adopt that attitude, didn’t decide any of that. But bit by bit, I have all but abandoned my practice of writing anything that is really close to my heart, close to my true nature.

Why? Fear of failure to communicate well what I thought or felt? Often. That’s happened, God knows.

Fear of hurting someone else who might be involved in whatever I happened to be writing about? Certainly I have reason to hold that concern, as there are so many people in my world, family, friends, clients, associates, who have shared their deep secrets and concerns with me. I hold their trust in me sacred. I would never want to inadvertently say or write something that would betray their trust or hurt them in any way by one of my rememberings.

But, also, perhaps now more importantly, there is a fear of not having space to do justice to the subjects that really are of most concern to me. In an age of the “bottom line” and “tweets” and instant communication, my insistence upon context, my need to spell out exactly what I mean by each and every term is, I know, a burden to most readers. They don’t have time for all of that defining and associating and historical detective work that, for me, makes any written communication most meaningful.

Anyone can read, and think they understand, for example, the words, “I baked bread today.” And they would understand, on a certain simple level. But would they be made aware of or be made to remember, by that sentence, the sensation of the spongy dough between ones fingers, the pressure against the heel of the hand when the kneading gets just right, the aroma of the baking bread, the sound that thumping on the crust makes when the bread has baked enough, the way the butter melts across the freshly cut slice of warm bread, and on and on and on. Would they resonate with the words of the poet Patti Lynn who wrote:

“…When sky and street merge in sullen grayness
and black trees stir in sleep,
my stove becomes a hearth.
I am many women who have looked at rain
through a flap of hide, from a hand hewn door,
and felt secure against a threatening world
blessed within warm walls and sheltering roof.
Hands deep in flour,
powdered grain from a million fields
garnered in sweating sunlight,
I am many women who have kneaded resilient dough
with strong hands…”

Can I not trust my reader to bring his or her own associations to my paltry words and enrich whatever I write? Well, that depends. (You see, I must always insist upon that phrase, that’s the issue, isn’t it? It depends…)

If I am to write about the ultimate meaning of the universe, the nature of love and truth, the value of spiritual communication with the greatest mystery, then, no, I do not trust that I will be truly understood. People who are fundamentally inclined to define words in certain given, fixed ways, not allowing for nuance, (no matter their spiritual tradition) will not “get” my rambling excursions into imagination, curiosity, speculation, and, yes, historical context.

So why invite misunderstanding? Why alienate those who would otherwise be my friends, even my confidants? Certainly why stir up new enemies?

Well, yes, I hear you. “So you will give up speaking the truth as you are pursuing it, unraveling it, redefining it, contradicting it, just because…of all that? Cowardly, are you?”

No, not really. I simply have such a reverence for what I hold most dear that I do not want to understate or overstate or misstate it. I do not want it to be misunderstood for its own sake, not mine. Sacred things are to be treated in a sacred manner, by writer and reader.

You ask me if it is that I do not wish to, as Jesus was said to have once advised against, “cast pearls before swine.” (He certainly paid a dear price for not following his own advice, didn’t he?)

But, no, that’s not quite right for me. I don’t think of anyone, even those who certainly would misunderstand and devalue what I have to say, as swine, or as in any way less than me. I have compassion for them in their current state of being, I have love and concern for them, I know that I can learn from their point of view too, I truly want to relate to them, even relate to them where they are. That is, most fundamentally, my way. I have been called, by someone who studied me carefully before making an assessment of me, “a lover. Just that.” I do love, easily, and widely, and consciously. I do not wish to distance anyone from me or from my given love for them because of what I say or write or interpret.

So, for these reasons and more, writing has become difficult. It is easier to quote others. It is easier to remain silent, to become a recluse, to let others hold forth about things that are essential to me. It is easier, in short, to hide out.

But, she says, write. Write anyway. Write for me. Write just for yourself. Write for your grandchildren’s grandchildren. Someone will want to know what you thought and felt. I want to know. Write.

So this morning, I wrote this.

2 comments | Add One

  1. Dawn - 02/5/2014 at 10:56 am

    Thank you for writing!

  2. Carol - 02/5/2014 at 3:03 pm

    Yes !! Thank you for writing and by doing so, you encourage me and others to do the same … Beautiful!

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