When I try to write, I feel like I am making myself do something, trying to manipulate me somehow. No matter how healthily I attempt to look at it, that several-foot distance between me and my keyboard is packed with dread.
I hate dread.
If I could bypass it, I would. Maybe I can. Maybe the answer is out there, the little previously unnoticed route around the dark valley.
It ought not be this way. I’ve been given a gift, to be received, delighted in, and shared. Instead I hang onto it like it’s a gift card, dreaming while I roam around Target trying to decide how to spend it. So. Many. Possibilities.
And what if I make the “wrong” choice? What if I spend it on toilet paper when I should have spent it on eyeliner? Hairspray? A new shirt? Batteries for my husband (he would be so happy)? I’m certain the giver of the gift intended that I find joy in it rather than angst.
Meanwhile I gaze at others finding joy and freedom in expressing themselves, in first receiving then sharing what’s been given them. The cousin who can’t stop composing new music, her hands dancing across piano keys. The son who prolifically writes satire, word after clever word. The painters, the poets, the songwriters, the decorators, the choreographers, the gardeners—all producing something.
“Diane doesn’t DO anything.” I can’t even tell you whether this was ever spoken, but it’s a message from my childhood lingering way beneath the surface of me. To find its source seems like more digging than I’m up for. But then when one pulls a big weed from the ground, is it necessary to find out how it got there? Maybe not. Maybe let’s just get the weed out and plant something lovely in its place.
Diane dreamed. Diane thought. Diane danced and climbed trees. Diane observed. Diane giggled. Diane made up songs. Diane absorbed things in her heart. Diane sought and often found meaning in everything. Diane admired beauty. She pondered and played, her pondering being more her reality than her play. She swam. She enjoyed people. She loved.
I suppose she couldn’t be put into a box. “This is our child who plays piano.”
“This is our child who enjoys animals.” “This is our child who reads incessantly.”
No, there wasn’t one box to put me in. I was inconvenient in that way, perhaps.
How inconvenient that Diane is in drill team. That means we have to get her to the school early on Saturdays so she can march in parades. That means we have to buy her nylons at 7-eleven on the way (why were my parents always surprised I needed new nylons for every parade?). Frantic realization, followed by heavy sighs, followed by a rushed three-mile drive.
My needs seemed a bit too much. I seemed a bit too much. And I wonder whether I now treat myself and my desires as an inconvenience.
How inconvenient that I have ideas to write about some things, about many somethings, in fact. That means I have to step up and meet that need to express myself. That means I have to travel the dreaded “three miles” from where I sit to my computer. Frantic, followed by heavy sighs, followed by possibly dragging myself to where I need to be. A victim of my own gifts and desires?
I don’t know. I know that my writer friend Ruth was seen and embraced by her parents. I wonder what I would be like now if I had been treated the same. Her dad, when she was eight years old, told her, “Write down the things God whispers to you.” He saw her and encouraged her to step into who she was.
I suppose I am angry I didn’t have encouragement to be who I am. I suppose I think it’s all rather unfair that my guiding factor was to see how little trouble I could be, to attempt to need as little as possible, to not overwhelm the already chaotic family (albeit fun) system in which I lived.
I needed to write this today.
It’s okay to need. And dream. And ponder. And be angry. And heal.
Diane Mann 2019