Lately I’ve been marveling at the power writing has to both keep me sane and drive me insane.
For the past week, however, I’ve spent more time on the “insane” end of the continuum. I have been bargaining with myself, thinking maybe I should just scrap this whole thing. Dwell forevermore in the safety of my journals where I don’t have to research agents and write query letters and contend with my perfectionist inclinations. After all, it’s the simple desire to write that is the blessing, right?
But I can’t quit because of these damn dreams that live in me, that beg me to breathe life into them, that won’t leave me the hell alone and move on to someone more worthy, someone who has read James Joyce and Moby Dick and who could tell you exactly what a denouement is. Because until I looked it up moments ago, I forgot.
So I’ve been mired in the existential rants in my head, and because of this, I drafted an email to the director of the homeless shelter yesterday where I teach once a week saying that I couldn’t make it last night, that I had forgotten the kids were off school and we had plans, blah, blah, blah.
I couldn’t press “send” though. I knew I needed to show up and teach. Just because I am drowning in self-doubt doesn’t mean I can’t throw someone else a line. So instead of hiding behind my insecurities, I packed up all of the stuff I take with me–candles, journals, Sharpies, tape, my “quote bouquet,” and music, along with all of my thoughts of unworthiness–and drove to the shelter.
It’s a magical thing for me to write with these women each week. Though I am the volunteer, coming to teach a skill that can help them during this time in their lives, the truth is, writing with these women helps and inspires me just as much as I hope to inspire them. I think it’s because I sit with these women around a table each week, women who have lived through things far more tragic and difficult than I could imagine, and all I see are their possibilities. I look at them, as our pens fly across the pages, filling the spaces with our hearts and souls and hopes and dreams and everything else that makes a life, and I know they are worthy of everything this world has to offer. I know they can rise above their circumstances and be heroes to themselves and their children.
And this belief in them gives me the strength and conviction to believe in myself.
The boomerang effect of giving. Thank God I get to reach up and grab it out of the sky.