“We write to taste life twice.”
I can tell when I’ve gone too long without writing. I’m a hazier version of myself. A version far more scattered, far less alive. It’s not that anything I have to say is particularly profound. My life is what most would classify as ordinary. It’s not that the way I phrase things is exceptionally significant or creative. Truth be told there are far more eloquent wordsmiths just within my circle of friends. I don’t write for those reasons. If anything, those things–comparison and the like–have far too often been the source of what keeps me from writing. Too often we don’t know how to say something just right, so we choose not to say anything at all. I often told my students that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. There is so much truth in this borrowed phrase.
I can tell when I’ve gone too long without writing. There is a hunger and an ache to let words fill the page. There is also hesitation, second guessing, and doubt. Starting and stopping. A lot of deleting. Feeling and being out of practice, lacking flow. Yet knowing this is for me, how life is processed.
I can tell when I’ve gone too long without writing. Numbness begins to melt away. Raw emotions and thoughts once covered over lay bare. A greater awareness of not just what is beautiful, but also what is not. Writing honestly is a dangerous game. A dangerous game that requires vulnerability and a willingness to let what lies below the surface wash over you for better, or for worse. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend, to dismiss, to ignore. But sometimes only lasts for so long. Sometimes is not a home or long-term refuge. Sometimes is temporarily delaying the inevitable, for at some point the haze must lift if this life is to be lived.
Dramatic life transitions shift me into dangerous levels of introspection. I can live and dwell in this world far too intensely for far too long. So I force myself to come up to the surface for air. I drift. I tread water. I try to live in the moment, yet the pull to take a deep breath and plunge down deep below is too strong. I can’t live without breathing, but I don’t think I can live with my head perpetually bobbing above either.
Anias Nain’s words, “We write to taste life twice.” hung in my classroom just as much of a reminder to me as it was to those I taught. Tasting life twice. A way not just to process, but to savor what is desirable but also what is bitter. Life’s moments aren’t fast food. They’re not meant to be shoved down, thrown out, and hurried over. They’re meant to be tasted not once, but twice.
And so I write. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to slow down. I write to wake up. I write because not writing isn’t really an option. And sometimes, I fight my fear of being wrong. I fight my fear of sounding at best trite and at worst ignorant. I fight my fear and post to this blog not for a vast following, site hits, or comments but for clarity, for hope, for release. Truth be told, I don’t really do it for anyone other than me. For the sense of permanence it gives. For an ebeneezer of sorts–where I’ve been, who I’m becoming, and the thread of grace that has faithfully bound it all together. Good, bad, and ugly. A stone of remembrance for moments where faith wavers and perspective is lost. I stop. I slow down. I drink deeply. I wonder. I whisper. I shudder. I smile.
I taste my life twice.