The cold shock of meaningful writing

I’ve distilled the source of my happiness and contentment into three daily things: eating right, moving my body, and writing something meaningful. If I do these things, at the end of the day the odds are great that I will be at peace with myself. I like peace.

I want to focus on the meaningful writing. For me that means it can’t be stream of consciousness stuff like morning pages. I have given morning pages the old college try. I’ve done 750words.com for years. I’ve have a few streaks of writing my morning pages by hand as soon as I wake up. I love the feeling of the ink on the page. But no matter how I do the morning pages, by hand or typing, I always end up asking myself, why am I doing this? It is meaningless to me to write to myself about what I am going to do today or how much yesterday sucked.

For me, meaningful writing is beautiful, or it works out a dilemma, or both. Meaningful writing is structured in some way and it is directed and purposeful, not aimless. It leaves me feeling satisfied that I have “done my work” as a writer.

Meaningful writing is not easy to do. It accesses everything that is vulnerable inside me and for that reason it meets with resistance. It taps into the pain and shame of the past, or the insecurities of the future. If I show them who I really am will I be rejected again?

Because of the pain that lurks inside the work of meaningful writing, I find myself dancing on the threshold of it. I long to do it and I need to do it but I avoid it. It’s like how I used to feel as a kid, toes curled over the smooth concrete edge of the swimming pool, half-naked in my suit. I wanted to swim, to dive down and touch the depths while holding my breath, to feel the freedom and weightlessness of the water.

But the water is shockingly cold. I dip my toes in and confirm this. It doesn’t feel good and it will feel worse to be enveloped in that cold. And what if I jump in and my bathing suit dislodges from my body? Old traumatic memories die hard.

So I hesitate. I hem and haw and dance. I go inside and get a snack. I tell myself I don’t really want to swim in this pool. My heart tells me different. I try to shut up my heart. And then I have no peace.

When I was a girl, and I finally screwed up the courage to jump off the side into the chilly clear water, the shock of the cold was striking. It was uncomfortable. I would rise to the surface and draw in a shivered breath. But now that I was in, it was much better to stay in then to climb out and expose my wet skin to the air. I was committed. The cold wasn’t so cold anymore.

So it is with my meaningful writing. I have to jump in to get past the pain. I’ll feel it for a few moments but as I swim and stay with it, the water feels much warmer.

Photo by Léa Dubedout on Unsplash

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