The Healing Power of Writing

The Healing Power of Writing

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This hasn't exactly been a banner year so far. I've been working way too hard. I've been sick. I've been dateless for months, feeling dowdy and unattractive, but that's fine because the shock of the last man leaving nearly did me in. I've been oddly disconnected, even writing on autopilot at times, though I don't think anyone's noticed yet. It's as if all the juice has seeped away through the corners of my life, leaving me brittle as a husk.

Finally, I woke up one morning and knew I had to figure out what was going on. I unearthed my journal from where I'd hidden it under a pile of books and magazines. I put my pen to the blank paper and kept it moving. By the end of the first page, I knew I was on to something.

The act of writing down my thoughts like this, uncensored and meant for no eyes but mine, is terrifically liberating. It's amazing how often surprises come to light, little gifts offered up by my subconscious.

In that hour of writing, I realized I was stuck. It was that simple. And that realization made all the difference.

I remembered a section from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig. It had helped me make the break from a rut I was in six years ago. He wrote about how being stuck is actually a great place to be.

When you're mired in the muck, it's because you've exhausted all your usual options. The feeling of stuckness comes from applying your traditional ways of acting to new situations, and having them not work, repeatedly. The only way out is to try something new.

That morning, I wrote, "Maybe instead of going forward or backward, right or left, it's time to go up or down. Time to fly or to retreat to the depths for a while to see what you can find there."

I'm not ready to do any flying just yet, but the notion of retreat is appealing. Not giving up, but simply being quiet, going fallow for a time, understanding that this is not my season for planting, but for simply remembering that new growth is always stirring beneath the surface.

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In our culture, fallow time is something to be avoided. Not running a hundred miles an hour makes us look lazy or aloof. But in reality, transformation is not possible unless you give it time to root, down deep in the dark.

So, this is my fallow time. I'm still working hard, still venturing out into the world. But having been rejuvenated by the simple movement of pen on paper, I am no longer fighting it. Instead, I am honoring this time, allowing whatever transformation awaits to take hold.
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