Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Breathing words again

Nearly every day this past month words have poured from my heart and head onto paper and screen. It started as just a few drops back in July – the first piece of prose I had written in years. And now it has turned into a river. Poetry I thought was lost is welling up inside.

Sometimes the words are poetic or profound, sometimes chaotic and incoherent. But the more I welcome them, allow them space to live and breathe, the more they come.

A friend complimented me today and I thought “I cannot help it! Often I am barely trying to write well... I’m simply trying to write. There's nothing special in that”.

I realise now that I had stopped feeling the same way as I used to.

I have always felt deeply, none more so than my teenage years. My most prolific period was during the usual periods of teenage angst (with some added complications along the way). Even as a fairly depressed 16 year old, I am so fond of the memories of sitting with other writer friends pouring out our souls in silence or together at Writer’s Camps.

But over the past few years I think I have begun to shut down. While pain, chaos and the mundane of life raged in and around me, it was easier to slowly close my heart; no longer hearing, seeing, writing, poetry. It was easier to feel less and give up words, than plumb the depths of wounds and thoughts and dreams.

I scribbled last night...

I stopped breathing

I stopped believing

I stopped feeling

The truth was

numbness is more painful

These days, though, I find myself feeling and breathing and releasing. Words reveal truths and pains and hope that I could not find elsewhere. They begin to tell the story that I have been safely locking up inside my heart.

Poet Gregory Orr describes this very process

“I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions and traumatic events that come with being alive… When I write a poem, I process experience. I take what’s inside me — the raw, chaotic material of feeling or memory — and translate it into words and then shape those words into the rhythmical language we call a poem. This process brings me a kind of wild joy. Before I was powerless and passive in the face of my confusion, but now I am active: the powerful shaper of my experience. I am transforming it into a lucid meaning."

I am beginning to breathe and feel and believe again. And I am so very grateful for the gift.

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