Thursday, August 26, 2010

And the Walls Came Down

Been thinking about walls lately. Not just structural walls like the ones around me right now as I type, although I'm glad they're here. No. I've been thinking about the ones we humans make to navigate the world, to hide the darkest parts of ourselves, to keep out the darkest parts of others.

Just like house walls, they serve a purpose. I want walls in my house. They tell me when the kitchen becomes the family room. They separate my room from my children's rooms. They let me use the bathroom in peace. (My kids don't but that's not their job, right?) They keep the hot summer "air" out, the cold winter wind knocks at the door but can't get through. Walls are good.

Walls also shut people out. And while I don't want my house crowded full of people all the time, there's a time and a place for hospitality. Right?

I had a few emotional hiccoughs this summer, which spun me into a mild summer funk. A sort of sadness turned me inward. I locked up my personal doors and windows. I put extra insulation around my virtual interior windows, drew the blinds and shut off for a while. I was hurt. I was confused. I didn't want to write because writing would make me feel and I didn't want to feel. I wanted to float. To simply exist without thought or notion.

I kept living my life, of course. I mean there are these people at my house who rely on me, things to do, people to see and all that. So while I tuned out emotionally for a bit, I kept running. Usually when I run my brain works on overdrive on creative ideas I can use either in my studio or in my writing. Running opens part of my brain that helps me see the shadow of possibility, a glinty piece of silver on the path. During this emotional wall building thing, I concentrated on step after step. That was it. That was all I had. I had nary a decent idea or thought. My train of thought went something like: "step, breathe, step, breathe...."

If there are routines in your life you depend on for some semblance of regularity and those systems go on the fritz, it can feel like trying to catch a speck out of a glass of water. You see it. You know the solution but you can't make it happen. I felt frustrated. Stupid, even. Creatively dry.

Until two days ago. I put new music on the old ipod, music that had no emotional connotations for me. Music I had never before heard, music that drummed into my head and feet a rhythm that breathed and stepped for me and suddenly, the cobwebs of doubt and confusion disintegrated. In my head, I composed a sentence. Not just any sentence. One that was more than two complete thoughts, related to each other, with interesting word choice and a funny point (if I do say so myself).

In my attempt to keep myself from feeling the hurt, I also closed my eyes to the re-creative potential of the hurt. I'm not saying running is a magic potion. I'm not saying that feeling hurt is amazing because it leads to great art. I'm not saying music is the great salve to the weary soul. Far from it. Maybe it was time, or perspective or simply being tired from the effort of suppressing it. I don't know. But the wall started to crumble, and I'm thankful.

In feeling it, in pulling it out of myself and writing about it, I could polish the stone and reflect on it from different angles. I found that the hurt held good truth in it that I needed to see. We don't always see the good that comes out of pain. Sometimes it just hurts. This time, this one time, the truth is flooding into my head and heart and I'm thankful for that.


  1. "I didn't want to write because writing would make me feel and I didn't want to feel. I wanted to float."

    Oh, I know that feeling well. I went through several *years* of my life feeling that way. And you know what? You did just the right thing—a little bit of accepting that feeling for what it was, in that moment, and a little bit of trying different things that might gradually work toward toppling that wall.

    Can I just say I'm proud of you? And very glad you're writing again—your words speak truths that are both beautiful and gritty.

  2. Kristin, I thought of how hard it must have been for you to write YOUR post today. What I felt was just a tiny blip compared with that stunning loss. It's a bit like picking a scab, isn't it?

    I always feel warm and fuzzy and terribly complimented when you leave a comment, especially one so very kind. Thank you.

  3. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.