I have not written anything for a while. It has not been good for me. All the thoughts that I might have worked through with words have been chasing each other around my head in ever-decreasing circles until I have found myself tangled up in them. When you are writing, you can pull out each thread in turn and give it some sort of meaning.
I have just finished Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. It is, amongst many other things, a good reminder of why it’s important to write. Of how the act of writing can unravel things and of how words, once they’re shared and released from the confines of your own head, can act as a bridge to the world, a way of re-connecting.
One of the costs, for me, of not writing, has been to lose that connection. To feel myself retreat further into a lonely space inhabited by only me and my thoughts. The world becomes greyer as this happens. It is hard to tune in fully when your thoughts are shouting at you. Or, it has been for me. Once they’re out you can turn your attention to other things. The world sharpens, again.
The problem with not writing for a long time is it’s hard to work out, when you start again, where to begin. This not knowing where to begin, what to write, has been part of my retreat but I am reminded, time and time again, that with writing, you just need to start. What then comes out leads you to the next thing and, hopefully, to some sort of reconciliation.
A while ago, I wrote a post about how I no longer believed that there was no such thing as never. It was driven by a growing awareness that we don’t always get what we want in this world. That sometimes, the people that we love and the aspirations that we hold and the hopes that we invest in are just out of our grasp. And that’s just how life is. It was also driven by an acute awareness of my own mortality. A dark, formidable cloud that I couldn’t seem to escape from and that I am acutely aware it is never quite possible to escape from. For some people. this makes life all the more precious. For me, it made me incredibly scared. How could I make the time I had count? How could I live in the midst of such uncertainty.
Words, I think, might help this. As well as reaching out, they allow us to etch our thoughts and feelings onto the world. They give permanence to things that are fleeting – and they also make fleeting things that, at the time, seem permanent. They are a way out of and beyond ourselves. For some, something that lasts after their years. For others, a way of writing a world that may not, at that time, be within their immediate grasp.
So I am not sure what I will end up writing next but I do know that it’s important for me to keep putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboards thoughts to words. I might not do it here and I might not do it publicly but writing has given me oh so much in the past, and I hope that it can become my route back to the world again.