I’ve had some inspired moments that left me urgently wanting to write, recently, but the timing was poor and the moment was not at hand; the ideas have since slipped away. Some mornings I wake feeling inspired to write, other mornings it is my morning meditation that inspires me…still others, I face a blank page for an eternity of minutes, until making an observation about that experience, itself, is what remains. (Guess what sort this morning has turned out to be? lol)

I keep a journal. My most private, uncensored, unfiltered, uninvestigated, unverified, stream-of-consciousness reflections on my experience are written there, ideally where they do no harm. I have many dozens of bound volumes reflecting on various details of my life over time, and at one point they were displayed on bookcases as a singular body of written work; there was something strangely powerful about standing midst the many varied volumes, understanding that even so many were only a small slice of my individual experience in a mortal lifetime. Change happens. Most of those volumes are now locked away, for space-saving and aesthetic reasons, and changes in what I need to hold on to as I have changed, myself. In high school I wrote with structure and discipline, in the evening, once daily, at the end of the day. Later, I wrote in a somewhat irregular way, because the Army didn’t make it an easy thing to find time to write. Domestic violence drove my writing ‘underground’; my journal was secured in a safe deposit box at a nearby bank that I felt reasonably certain my husband-at-the-time did not frequent. Opportunities to write freely, then, were very rare, and the writing seemed fairly desperate.

After my first marriage ended, and I moved into my own place, my writing (in my journal) exploded into a very large part of my experience, and the many dozens of volumes began piling up. I was going through blank books every 6 weeks or so, and writing about everything I could think to. Since then, on and off I’ve gone through periods of near-continuous writing that don’t exactly seem ‘inspired’ as much as … driven. Then I stopped. Just…stopped. For a long while I didn’t write at all, almost two years, I think. Eventually, I’d write one day, say nothing,  then it would be days, weeks, months before I ‘tried again’. I had ‘lost my voice’. It pained me. I was ‘stuck’ and uninspired, and also feeling that I urgently needed to say something. I was in a very bad place. Life continued to go on around me, and certainly I continued to reflect on it…but I’d lost a powerful ally on a lonely journey: myself. Words matter. Mine matter to me. I read what I write. I had stopped writing. I had stopped listening. There seemed no other choice to me, then; what I was saying on those pages wasn’t helpful. I considered burning them all, every volume, every page, every word. I’m still not sure why…and I’m still not sure it’s a bad idea.

The closer I got to turning 50, the more it hurt me to feel so silenced. I wasn’t painting, either. I felt shutdown, diminished, and impaired. I ended many days thinking “well, this has likely run its course then, hasn’t it?” about my life, and wondering what to do about that feeling.

...and usually with a cup of coffee.

…and usually with a cup of coffee.

Here I am on the other side of all that. I write most days, here, and less regularly in my journal – and it’s digital these days. Mindfulness practices, meditation, and improving my understanding of the neuroscience of emotion has taken me a long way from that dark place. I’ve been finding life worth living for a long while, now, without any requirement that it be ‘perfect’. I feel disappointed less often. The rare days I really struggle with anxiety, fearfulness, or that bleak feeling of utter futility, are those when my PTSD is clearly causing me problems, or when I’m fatigued and having more challenges with my head injury than I do when I am well-rested.

The writing is a metaphor inasmuch as there are characteristics of that experience that point out how varied the human experience can be: driven, broken, emotional, stoic, programmed, helpless…and also loving, compassionate, supportive, adventurous, romantic, exciting… mindful. It’s been these new practices of mindfulness that have benefited me most, and the rest of life’s lessons tend to build on that, these days, by improving my experience day-to-day, or highlighting missed practices, or needful changes, using less favorable outcomes to show the way. I’ve learned that living is not about filling the blank page, as much as choosing what to write with care, and that writing is one of the things I do to take care of me.

Today is a good day to write words about writing. Today is a good day to smile, and enjoy who I am – who we each are. Today is a good day to be kind, to be considerate, and to value my most private joys as highly as those I share.