I’ve been having trouble writing and posting things, and as I think about it, most of it has little, if anything, to do with not having a desire to write.
No, instead, it’s that so much of my head is taken up with…other stuff.
There’s just a lot going on right now, and it’s that worst kind of limbo, where everything is undecided. It’s that feeling when someone is, say, going through a lawsuit, when things drag on, and resolution seems a long way off.
I’m not involved in a lawsuit (thank goodness), but there are a lot of things going on in which the general status of them is decidedly unresolved. The specifics of them are unimportant. The fact remains that there are a lot of things that I’m in the middle of, and the end, during certain moments, seems nowhere in sight.
When I’m going through things such as this, they take up valuable space inside my head that I could instead devote to, well, writing, for one, but just about everything else as well. During times like this, it’s even difficult to do everyday chores, because those unresolved things consume so much of my thoughts. So I turn my mind to them, thinking that if I dwell on them, it’ll make them resolve themselves that much faster.
How free my mind will be, I tell myself, when I have all those things tied up with a bow. Yes, I tell myself, I’ll tear right back into writing after I’ve settled them all.
Yet lately, and I do wish I’d had this epiphany decades ago, something has finally occurred to me: life is always going to be like this.
My friend Jeff’s emails used to have a postscript that included a great Mark Twain quote: “Life is one damn thing after another.” How true that is. The moment I resolve one thing, some other thing comes along, and once again, it takes residence in my mind.
So the key, I’m seeing, is not about getting those things resolved so that I can write (or do anything else, for that matter). Instead, it’s about latching on to that space in my head that’s still capable of writing words (or doing anything else), and cultivating it.
It’s not just that cultivating that space allows me to actually get things done. It’s also that when I attend to all those unresolved things from that sacred place, I tend to do a much better job of it. The worst place, I’ve come to see, to attend to an unresolved matter is when my mind is in that anxious, unresolved place, when I desperately want the situation to just end. This is when I say those things where I so dearly wish I could unsay them, and when I send those emails where I so dearly wish I could unsend them.
And so I write this, here in that little sliver of my mind that is not thinking about those things, but is instead thinking of what I’m doing, right now. This place will, with time, become more sacred, and when, at last, some of those things finally reach resolution, there will be even more of my mind that can just focus on the here and now. At the same time, though, I know that other things will come along, and will drag on for days and weeks, sometimes months.
Yet having worked on cultivating this small sacred space, I will be ready for them. No matter how much those things fill my mind, there will always be a place in which I will see that the most important thing to do, when eating breakfast, is not to dwell on those issues and how to solve them. It is, instead, a time to think about pouring myself a glass of orange juice, and adding milk to my coffee.
Because if I inhabit that furtive, anxious place of unresolved issues, it’s a sure bet that I will, instead, pour myself a glass of milk, and add orange juice to my coffee.