January 22, 2017
On the way home from church today I looked down at my lap and, sighing at the sight of the tattered zipper seam on my backpack, I announced, “I’m falling apart.” Then, to all around, I explained that, in addition to the bag in front of me, I had hit the point in any given year when I start to feel like my possessions have had it. I’m hard on stuff, thanks to a variety of factors including (but not limited to) a habit of wearing, and using, the same things repetitively. This habit combined with the fact of living in a harsh area of the world means that I currently carry a bag that looks as if it might unload all my stuff at any moment, I wear clothing that needs to be safety-pinned and (dare I admit this?), sometimes, rubber-banded, I leave a phone charger perpetually plugged in (so as not to risk the exposed wires dying altogether), and I have most recently killed my new computer (spilling water on it when switching classroom lessons this past week). I did not mention the fact that underwear is one of my issues, seeing as how the “all around” in this scenario was our pastor and his family. Yes—I’m falling apart, in a somewhat comical sort of way.
I am also falling apart in my personally professional life: namely, I’m not writing. I’ve been growing increasingly obsessed lately about how long it has been since I have blogged and, more importantly, how long it has been since I wrote anything more lasting (more meaningful?) than a short-lived (i.e. short-read) post on a blog. And years ago I began a project that I simply abandoned, for no good reason. It is a story that would come easily if I just set my self to it and finished the writing.
I am a writer. Though a sorry excuse for one these days. I go a month without writing anything, and I have gone years without publishing.
I am a lover of words, and a lover of books. But I have not read an actual book, in its entirety, in ages. I read in snippets—in stolen moments of random input, that I must admit to recently include social media scrolling that, generally, leaves me with a sense of wasted time. Sometimes a worthwhile inspiration to write to a friend, or to pursue a useful project, comes from this but, more often than not, much of the “input” feels empty. I have taken to listening to reading-related podcasts, being inspired by one book after another as they are discussed, and happily remembering those I have read in the past . . . but never actually reading one of the books that I think about.
So today I am writing about not writing. This post is simply to say that, for whatever reason, I am battling a sense of angst over the question of when to write and when to “live.” I feel guilty for not writing when I know it is something I am made to do (though I do not know what my specific writing purpose in life is). I also feel guilty for taking the time to write when there are so many seemingly more immediate and practical things that can be done in a day . . . shouldn’t I be helping someone else rather than whittling away the minutes in my own wordy brain?
I honestly do not know the answer right now. But I do know that a spontaneous conversation with a fellow teacher this afternoon brightened my outlook. This particular friend is a creative soul, so when I saw her I started to blurt out this angst instead of just answering “fine” to the “How was your weekend?” query. She got it, as I suspected she would. She also felt the same, so far as recent creative outlets go, on her end.
What happened next was the sort of conversation that brightens up a spot in the soul that you didn’t know was faded:
We made a plan. It was a simple one, really—stemming from the realization that each of us and, we suspect, others as well, could use the inspiration and accountability of a scheduled working space. So we are going to come together, and invite others to join, for a dedicated wort-time. It will be likely squeezed in between teaching duties and obligatory meetings . . . but it will happen. It has not happened yet, so nothing has been “accomplished” for my sense of angst, if you think of it in one way. But I am choosing to think in another. I choose to be uplifted with the knowledge that a step has been taken. The writing will happen. And this gives me a bit more ok-ness with the fact that I am still, for now, not writing . . .
*Much of my not-writing time lately has been spent in the kitchen (often baking bread) or teaching youngsters. So this photo, from a while back, of teaching little ones said art, seemed appropriate.