dichotomy

* Divine Dichotomy: that two contradictory truths can exist, neither making the other untrue.

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i had the pleasure of hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak last night at the most amazing venue. her presence is one of total comfort, she is exactly who she is and i was giddy just to hear her talk and see where her thoughts took her, and respectively where her thoughts took me as well.

there were many words she spoke that really resonated with me, but one thought in particular stuck to my mind. as she was telling this story, i knew it was the thing, the one thing, i was supposed to hear. (if there is just one thing to remember. it’s the one thing that digs deep as you begin to feel as if the entire theatre is  disappearing and she’s speaking directly to you as if seated beside you on a couch).

it was the concept of writers block.

blocked is not the word i would use. and it wasn’t exactly the word she used either. she described it more as giving in to the fear of moving forward. something as simple as being frozen with self doubt.

she spoke of the time after great success with Eat, Pray, Love (while under contract to produce a follow-up book) the process of experiencing that pressure, writing with all the readers voices in her head, seated around her desk with her, hovering over her shoulder with each word she wrote)

she spoke of those two years. the manuscript she finished, the words that were bound into print, which she held in her hands.  after it was complete she realized it was not her, not her true authentic voice, and therefore it could never see the light of day (nor be published.)

after confessing to her editor, after admitting her fears of never being able to write again, she mentioned to us the concept of distraction.

it’s okay to be distracted. to let it go and not think of it for some time. to pour yourself into another creative outlet. i had an image in my mind. (remember she was talking directly to me in this conversation) i had the image of me with my camera avoiding the work i should be doing. i had the image of me playing with settings and sunlight when i should be working on grammar and syntax.

for the entire summer of 2008 she said she threw herself into gardening. she didn’t think of writing, of the book, of the advance she had been given, of the words that simply were not in her yet. she gardened.

think of it this way, your divinity is on loan to you, passed through you from some other source. let it pass and it will come back in time.

she told the story of summer turned fall, the ground hard with dying plants. it was october and as she pulled up the last of the withered tomato plants, the very first sentence of her next book appeared before her “in perfect type.” she went to her room, found some paper, and two months later her new book was finished.

i believe this. because this is how it works. it’s just that easy. (easy is a relative concept) it’s not something to be forced. it’s not something to be turned on like water from a faucet. it’s something that comes through you like air, like energy, like a tap on the shoulder and a ‘pardon me’ so loud there’s no ignoring it.

i’ve been struggling internally for quite some time. not ‘battling’ like swords to demons, but moreso bothered by an incessant itch. a pest, a slight buzzing in me that won’t go away until i address the issue with myself. (i haven’t had this conversation with myself until now)

i thought i had to do it all. i thought i had to juggle. to hold both parts of what i am (what i’ve become most surprisingly) and figure out how to make them get along without competition. figure out how to give them both time when they dance awkwardly together (and strangely do not compliment each other as one should think they would). they fight over time. they fight over energy and emotion and brain space and blood sugar and sunlight.

photography is easy. easy in the sense of instant gratification. easy in the sense of aesthetically pleasing. easy in the sense that it actually pays me money. it is lighthearted and beautiful and easy to be around. photography is everyone’s best friend. i have fallen quite surprisingly into this role of photographer because it comes easily.

all the while my mind, this other side of me, the wicked darkness whispers ‘traitor’ and ‘fake’! because i know that at my most inner core, i am a writer.

writing is not easy. it has never paid me, nor have i asked it to. it is painful and exhausting and requires so much of my time that i have been supressing it, kicking it away with disregard. i love it and yet it itches me, mocks me, drives me forward, and is all my soul wants to do simply for the process of doing it. yet here i am, i’ve been denying it water in hopes that it just shuts the hell up and withers away. (this thing i love! this thing that is deeply a part of me. how could i be so cruel?!) i don’t want it to wither entirely. but just for now, please, because life is too full, too emotional, too much, too much. there are words i want to say, but i deny myself them. because photography is easy. and writing is not, it is something that makes me human. and most often feeling human (for me) is a momentarily painful experience.

i guess i was given permission last night to dive into this other creative outlet.  and it gave me a breath, and a bit of the guilt washed away, and i felt a bit lighter. 

i know at some point, it will be time. and that writer part of me will grow again, demanding a pen and paper just as now my eye is drawn to the camera.  i need not worry about that now. it will come when it comes. and when it does, the human experience will be altogether different.

“Drawing is like taking a line for a walk” -Paul Klee
(and it’s how one begins again to write.)

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