I was a little wary when I dozed off with a spider on the wall but when I woke to find it crawling on me. Panic. Get it off. I can’t think straight with this thing on me.
Only when I get some distance can I see the benefits of its fly-catching webs, and can begin to imagine living symbiotically, me and the spider, the spider and me.
I was born into the church and chose the church but then I woke up to find the church under my skin.
I’ve spent this year writing in frustration about that big bad wolf outside of me, but at some point I have to admit the wolf lives in me, and that’s why it bothers me so much. If I were immune to its power I would be indifferent and have no reason to write about it.
Find and Replace
Unlike old typewriters, modern writing software has a “find and replace” feature that can search for any word (for example, “Indian”) and update it with different words (“Native American”).
As I look back on my writing this year, I could surely use such a feature to replace each complaint about the “church” with “that churchy part of me”.
Here’s an example: “How could the church be so sure about everything?” (see more on this) to “How could that churchy part of me be so sure about everything?”
Or, “How could I let that churchy part of me have such a big say?”
Or simply, “Why didn’t I ask more questions?”
I am finally learning to do this at the doctor’s office, so why not in life? How many times have we taken a family member to the doctor for some minor thing, accepted the doctor’s first diagnosis and left with some ointment and bandaids only to get home wondering if we can get it wet or how we’ll know if it’s healed?
I think we have some implicit trust that the doctor has told us everything we need to know.
It’s time to start trusting that my questions are an elemental part of the doctor-patient relationship. (In fact the doctor expects this, and if they don’t, it’s time to find a new doctor.)
I’m going to try writing more from myself, making honest art and making art honest. But even if I don’t, the reader can know that whoever I am angrily writing about is triggering some part of me I wish weren’t there.
I want to write a letter of peace but the frustration seizes my fingers. This year I am learning to write out the frustration in order to find the letters of peace underneath.
Writing has been so beneficial to get this out, to point the finger without actually poking. All along I’ve wondered whether to mail this letter or just keep writing the letter over and over, until finally the letter itself changes.
Defining and discussing frustrations puts them in their place. Instead of keeping faith in a narrow box with frustrations swirling around – let’s turn the tables by putting frustrations in a box, and letting the joy run wild. Instead of keeping the chickens in a cage so the wolves of the world can’t get them, let’s put the wolves in a cage and let the chickens run wild.
Featured image by Dave Morrow, see more work at DaveMorrowPhotography