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POEM: When I Can't Write...I Write Anyway
This poem is for anyone out there who can relate to the feeling of wanting so badly to create but not finding the space or the words or the way. I feel this a lot and try to work through it.
Tonight, I wanted to work on an essay about the sacred heart, but I just kept doing the things I do to avoid writing. In these moments, it takes a lot of self-compassion and discipline to find my way back to art, work, or to give myself a break.
Sending love and compassion to you in your creative expression … or avoidance of it :)
When I Can't Write... By Schuyler Brown I can’t write tonight so I clean. I clean, so that I won’t write. I wonder if Rumi ever had this problem... or Rilke? Surely, not Rilke. I wash the dishes as if they need scouring. What am I avoiding? I pull out the vacuum...again. What am I afraid of? I wonder as I fall into my clean sheets, exhausted: Who's idea was it to collapse? This woman's work is never done. I feel my mother when I fuss in the kitchen. I feel my grandmother when I sweep corners where no one ever looks. I feel all the women when I'm on my hands and knees with a neatly-folded paper towel spot cleaning what the mop missed. Yes, that's when I feel all the women who ever kept house instead of making their mark. It's maddening! What is this pressure that drives me to distraction? That so badly needs release? Creativity! Life force! Raw power! Poems yet to be written... Paintings yet to be painted... Worlds yet to be created... I hear them! I see them! I feel them! Sometimes, all at once! But, there are a million and one things that seem to need my attention on the way to my destiny; between me and my journal; between me and my art supplies... between me and my soul. To be clear: I'm not talking about responsibility, or care for others, or real chores: things that need fixing, folks who need tending, things that are due, things that fall to you. Cleaning can be holy work. Chores can be sacred. Some routines are as good as ritual. I'm talking about the distraction, avoidance, and procrastination. I'm talking about the voice that says: "What if they find out I’m full of dangerous ideas? Marvelous mischief! Oh, I better keep that under wraps... I better CLEAN THAT UP." My dreams grow louder as I try to ignore them. This is a blessing. They build up until I’m ready to explode! This is a blessing. The intensity tells me something (if I listen) about desire and how I long to serve and how I know in my heart of hearts my voice matters. This truth is a blessing. When I feel how my creativity actually scares me; how my desire seeks a worthy object; when the lingering stories of persecution wind their way through my neural networks; stifling my voice like a boa constrictor, slowly compressing the life out of my dreams. That’s when I know what I need to create is space. Just stop. Put down the broom. Listen. Feel. Rest. Ignore the dishes in the sink. Leave the rug askew and the bed unmade and write, pray, dance, make something, say something unconventional... whether it’s heard or not hardly matters. It’s for you. It’s for us. It’s for them: all the women who can’t write tonight or dance or pray for any reason at all, for any reason at all. My grandmother, Minerva, kept a house so clean "you could eat off the floors." At her funeral, someone passed me an old blue book from her senior year of high school valedictorian in which she'd written a moving, stirring, rousing essay about the need to end all war. It was the first time I'd heard this voice her voice. I will stop cleaning tonight and write for her. ~~~ October 29, 2023
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