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A meditation

This week I’m happy to share with you a prose-poem I wrote on the things that get in the way of writing — enjoy!      
-Jessica


 

There’s a warm cup of tea on my desk and I finally can feel my fingers for the first time in hours as the warmth of liquid comfort creeps through my veins and slips hurriedly out into my extremities. My fingers sit on my keys and I wait.

Inhale.

I wait for the muse or my soul or whatever it is you want to call the first stirrings of inspiration. The flutter of here and now and this and why don’t you start here, with this beginning — with this warm cup of tea and my fingers, their skin overly dried and roughening but still a little soft from the water of dish-washing and counter-scrubbing, still noticing the ache between my shoulders after what feels like a cathedral of floor-sweeping.

Exhale.

The silence creeps in and I don’t know what to say. Inspiration refuses to budge and I can feel lists upon lists, quivering in the back of my mind. Reminding me that I forgot the stretch of counter with the toaster, that I haven’t touched the crumbs that have collected on the kitchen table, that the dust bunnies beneath my dresser just keep growing. There’s a thousand and one things that I still need to get to.

Inhale.

I keep my fingers on the keys. It’s a kind of rule these days. Fingers on keys is safe.

When I was little and just learning how to type they used to call these the home keys — asdf jkl; — the place your fingers rest in the moments between typing. The place from which all typing begins.

These days I find myself more familiar with the home keys than I have ever been as I sit, fingers on keyboard, and wage a war with myself over my own right to write.

Exhale.

The thing about stories is they speak to us. As readers and as writers, stories bloom in our mind and they teach us something about the kind of people we are — about the kind of people we wish to become.

When I was little I didn’t dream of writing. Or maybe by the time I did it was already too late. I think that by the time I dreamed of writing I’d already learned that writing isn’t a “real” job and that I shouldn’t bother to try. I’m doing my best to unlearn that thought now, facing it down every day as I sit — fingers poised on keys that are ever so slowly starting to feel like home.

Inhale.

I think that’s all it is really, in the end. Coming home to ourselves over and over and over. Showing up. We’ve all become so busy that it’s nearly impossible anymore to find the time: time to breathe, time to sit, time to rest, time to sleep.

It’s even more impossible to find the time to write.

Because writing is like fighting demons and the moment you sit down the thing that comes up is resistance and — even though the desire to write has been niggling all day as you bought the groceries and did the laundry and cooked and then cleaned up from cooking — as soon as you hit the chair and find your fingers waiting on their favorite keys the only thing you can think about is the laundry that still needs folding, and whether you should check on the crock pot, and haven’t you been meaning to vaccum for weeks?

Exhale.

The trick is not to do it. The trick is to keep your fingers there, in the home position that’s starting to feel less like a home and more like a prison the longer you wait — as the clamour of all these other things (useful things…) you could be doing just keeps getting louder. And louder.

And the thing I think it’s important to know is that you have to just keep sitting.

Inhale.

Every moment is a choice. And in this moment I choose to come home to my writing.

Exhale.

 

Now I’d love to hear from you! What gets in the way of the important things you’ve been meaning to do?

If making time for the stuff that matters is something you struggle with. Here are a few resources you might want to check out on why it helps to do the important things before the urgent ones (hint: your email is urgent, but not important!).

And if you liked this piece, please share!

 

A poem for beginnings

Welcome to 2015! I’ve been sheltered away in my dreaming cave for the past few days, thinking about what I want my 2015 to hold. And, naturally, I want the coming year to hold many things, some of them more probable than others, but most of all I want 2015 to hold time and space for writing. And, of course, to get to share that writing with you. 🙂

Here’s my wish for you (and me!) in the new year

 

MAY WE

 

In honor of this wish, I’ve written a poem. Happy (somewhat belated) New Year, everyone!

 

A poem for beginnings

I begin.

I begin with a breath, with a cough, with a scream.

I begin cold and naked and shivering, thrust into a future I could never have dreamed of.

As a child I began to babble, to crawl, to stand.

As a child I first lay and then sat and then danced on my tippy toes, held securely in my father’s hands.

As a child I dared to stand alone and I crowed with achievement.

As a child I stood and then fell and I wailed to have failed so unexpectedly.

I grew taller and I hit the ground harder whenever I first leapt and then fell.

I collected small failures in the shape of bumps and bruises from where my growing edges had knocked against door jambs and chair backs and counter corners.

I collected larger failures in the shape of cracked teeth and sprained ankles and near-misses with cars.

As a child I was small and fragile and I didn’t always understand that life could be dangerous.

But I knew that falling was a necessary part of standing and that a few bumps and bruises were survivable.

As a child I knew how to cry and wipe my tears and stand back up again.

As a teenager I learned a different kind of lesson.

A lesson about not-crying and not-falling and not-trying.

A lesson about grades and how sometimes just trying isn’t good enough.

A lesson about the importance of being right instead of being brave.

I learned that doing it differently is dangerous and that to be myself was both risky and dangerous.

I learned that different was often lonely and my heart ached with the weight of that realization, of that emptiness.

I learned that most of the time people look without seeing and that when people looked at me they saw not-me but rather my list of achievements, of accomplishments, of activities.

I learned to let these things define me, until I became not-me, until I became them-instead.

And so I buried that little girl with her daring and her dreams and her failing and I learned to do what other people expected.

I learned to be bland. I learned to be boring.

I learned to be invisible.

And so I’ve come to here, to this moment, with a blank page before me and a brand new beginning and the only thing I know is that I’ve never been more scared of falling.

I’ve never been more scared of failing.

I’ve never been more scared of becoming, once more, that little girl.

The one who dared to dream of the impossible

The one who wasn’t afraid to fall down, cry, and still keep on trying.

 

What are your dreams for 2015? Let me know in the comments below!

When I look back, I see

When I look back the images that I see are of me, a little girl cast adrift in a sea that is vaster than her own imagination. I see myself in math class, attempting to hold within the circle of my skull the number of drops of water in the ocean.

I see infinity and zero superimposed such that infinity is nothing more than two zeros. I see infinity in the Ouroboros – and I struggle to reach my own tail – to become at once infinite and still nothing more than two zeros.infinity symbol

Two zeros side-by-side, like breasts, the pendulous sort I never grew. The sort of breasts I dreamed of as a little girl when I lay in bed at night and felt the tenderness of blossoms on my chest.

Two zeros side-by-side like me, a small zero tucked away in the larger cavern of my mother’s womb, sharing life-blood and oxygen back and forth between our two connected destinies. A moment in the infinite re-production of life stretching back through untold generations of mother giving birth to mother and to mother.

When I look back I see the moments in which I dared not stretch to my full height for fear of being too tall and I see the moments in which I sang oh-so-quietly for fear of being off-key.

I see the moments of lack and they are, each and every one, met by an equal moment of grace: the afternoon I spent at the beach not-thinking, just waiting for my heartbeat to synchronize with the rhythm of the tide.

I see sun drenched days spent on beaches with friends, with family. I see rocks that begged to be climbed until I could stand atop them like a god and know that I was just as infinite as our ever-expanding universe.

When I look back, I see everything.

I’d love to hear from you! What do you see when you look back? Let me know in the comments.

The drumbeat in my temples

The first time it happens I think I might be dying.

I’m in third grade. I’m sitting in the classroom and there’s a spot in my vision, a speck that shimmers in the morning light.

At first the speck is small and unimportant and I think that if I ignore it, it will simply go away.

And then it grows.

The spot grows and grows, eating everything in its path. First, a pencil eraser. Then it gobbles up my name, traced in graphite at the top of my worksheet.

It curves, a shimmering blue crescent, a lake of opacity that dominates my sight.

It mesmerises.

I’ve never experienced anything like it. No one has ever told me that you can have a shimmering pool of not-quite-moonlight-on-water in your eye that grows and grows, blotting out everything in its path.

I do not interrupt my teacher, not then, not at first. Not so much because I am not frightened, but because I am not certain of what words might be used to describe my problem. I am not sure how to speak of this pounded-silver crescent that has developed in my eye.

I say nothing about this spot and it’s growing-ness. I watch it as it grows until, just at the moment when I am about to panic, it begins, once more, to recede.

Evaporating from its edges like tidal waters dragged out, once more, to sea.

My vision returns.

And then the agony sets in.

I go home from school that day and my mother teaches me the word for migraine. She calls my shimmering crescent a “visual aura” and tells me that they come and then go and are followed by a headache.

She gives me Advil and a cup of tea because the caffeine will make the Advil more effective.

It is the day I learn that Advil doesn’t help a migraine. Not even if you take it with caffeine.

There will be other migraines after that first one. Several handfuls before I mostly grow out of them somewhere between middle school and high school.

Many will be treated with some Advil and an ineffectual cup of tea.

Some will be so bad that I vomit from the pain.

And it will be many years before I can face the aroma of a simple cup of tea without the echo of a drumbeat in my temples.

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you thought of this piece in the comments below 🙂

If my bones could speak

If my bones could speak they would tell you about how I wore them into battle like a cage and how I quivered on their insides as my heart shivered in my chest and my blood was sent thump-thumping out into the corners of my body.

If my bones could speak they would tell you of their aches and how they hurt in the mornings when I close my eyes against the cheerful chirp of my alarm clock and I brace myself. Because I know that in motion lies pain.

If my bones could speak they would tell you of a hundred thousand minutes spent dancing, and of how the music lingers in them even now and how my bones sing to me at night if I’m very still and very quiet.

If my bones could speak they would tell you that we used to be invincible and unbreakable and when the little kids played at taunting, when they sang about sticks and stones hurting their bodies — my bones knew that words were still more dangerous.

And they whispered to me their fears.

If my bones could speak they would tell you of all the times we fell or walked our growing hips into counter corners and door knobs. They would tell you of the times we forgot how tall we were and bumped our head. They would tell you of the moments when we ached with fever and curled up in pain.

If my bones could speak they would tell you about they way the vertebrae of my spine jostle together when we run and how this prevented us from fleeing the feelings of isolation that grew inside of us, blooming into those strange and shifting years that linger between childhood and self-actualization.

But most of all if my bones could speak they would tell you about the day I failed to hear them for the first time, and about how their voices grew louder until my bones clamoured in my body and I felt them shake me to my core but still I could not hear their voices, had forgotten the timbre of their tones.

If my bones could speak they would tell you of the day they woke up alone.

Author’s note: If you’d like to hear this piece in my own voice, check out the video below!

As always, I’d love to hear from you… what do your bones have to say? Let me know in the comments below! (And if you liked this poem, please share!)