Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Cleansing of the Soul

Rainy days always do this to me. I know some find them dark and depressing. I find them soul cleansing. A little Carole King on the front porch, glass of wine, and a really good book. A washing out of all that’s real. An earth and water come to Jesus. Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook for the very first time. And any time after that. The moment you push life into this world, and the moment after that when you hold it in your arms.

I do love a rainy day.

Well, friends, this particular soul cleansing is about you. I am reflecting now on all who have furthered my path in putting thoughts to page. A writer does not get to where she is all by herself. I know what they say about writing being a lonely profession, but it’s not true. A writer sits at the keyboard with every soul she has ever encountered, with every smile that has lifted her, every scowl that has brought her down. She sits with the professor-like older gentleman, the one with the white beard and the glasses slipping down his nose, the one behind her in line at the library. He tells her in the middle of nothing more than small talk that perhaps one day she will write. It fits with nothing they are discussing, but he seems to need to tell it. She sits with the mom she has known more as an acquaintance than a friend, the mom who asks what she will do with her life now that the kids have gone back to school. “Maybe,” says the mom, “maybe you will write.” And how would she know this as there has never been evidence that such a talent exists? I am reflecting. I am reflecting on that place inside of me that is you when I put pen to page.

This is my thank you for all that you have done to allow me to be the writer I am. This statement may seem prideful, but it is nothing more than the truth that each of us is not a single entity but rather the melding of every person who has ever crossed our path.

To you, then.

To the one of you who sat with me on a bench and cried over words that were long in the making, painful in the writing, draining in the reading. I felt exposed. I felt exhausted. I felt proud and confused and spent. You were there. Know that I feel your warmth, your presence, your comfort still. You wiped my tears and brushed back my hair and told me that it would be okay, that I was a beautiful person and kind and strong and had given so much to the world and had so much yet to give. You sat with your arms around me absorbing forty some years of emotion, emotion that had been unchained and set free, emotion that was violent in the pouring forth. You held me. You held me until I was able once again to hold myself.

To the one of you who said, “For the record, keep writing.” You have no idea how many times I repeat those words to myself. They feed me when my writer’s soul is empty. They comfort me when I am hurt, angry, embarrassed, when I want to run from my words and from all who have seen them. They encourage me when it seems that no one cares and that I am speaking only to myself. They remind me of the power of a word. When I have lost faith in my ability to impact others, to effect change, with nothing but characters and spaces and an expletive or two, your message reminds me of all the good that has happened since you penned that simple thought and placed it on my page.

And when I argue with your words, and I ask myself, “Why bother? What does HE know? Why continue to expose myself, to speak from inside of my heart, to speak from a place of vulnerability so intense it feels as if I have been left as the carcass in the field, left for my readers to pick at and devour and to walk away when they have had their fill?,” when I ask myself, “Why? Why should I write?” one of you steps forward and tells me to shut up and just do it, “Because you’re damn good at it!” But, still, I doubt. I doubt my abilities, myself, my content. I find a dark place and a box of tissue and gather anyone who will listen, and I berate myself for ever thinking me a writer, for being nothing more than an arrogant fool with an opinion. And you, you point your finger and say very simply, “Quit your whining and get back to the page.”

Get back to the page, indeed.

Rainy days always do this to me. I know some find them dark and depressing. I find them soul cleansing.

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