I’ve been plagued with writer’s block. It finally broke tonight when I asked myself a question: What does the yellow sign in this picture really mean?
I have no lack of topics. My notes page is filled with titles. Some of those titles have an opening line with them. A few have some rambling paragraphs that lead…well, nowhere. My journal – often an inspiration for blog posts – is filled with notions either way too personal or practically incoherent.
This has been frustrating me, until now. It occurred to me tonight where the block was coming from:
So much of art comes from a need to put into words, music or imagery the deep angst we experience in life. It is often born out of a desire to use our expressive gifts to say – in whatever language we can manage – what others can only feel. Usually, that expression is most tangible when it is loudest. Extreme disappointment, heartbreak, life changes, and disillusionment often drive the darker sides of that expression. Just as powerful, though seemingly more elusive, are notions such as deep love, grand adventure, or pure innocence. Both represent a sense of longing and desire.
For the first time in recent memory, I am content. That’s not to say I don’t have things I’m working on: I’m still learning the ins and outs of a new full-time job, there are new friendships growing, graduate school is on the horizon, a second book in the works and a laundry list of other things that need my attention. It is not to say the world we are in is without injustice or hardship or fears or strife. It is to say that I when I look at what surrounds me here and now, it is not met with fear or anxiety. It seems as though in the midst of all life might bring, I’m experiencing an answer to a prayer that is too often prayed robotically:
God, grant me
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and
The wisdom to know the difference.
As I was walking around town, reading yellow signs, and talking on the phone with a friend tonight, I realized that the conversation had no agenda. The walk had no real destination. There was nothing to be solved, no plan to make, no crisis to manage. There was just talk – what-so-ever happened to come up next from what landed in front of us. We didn’t need to work at living. We simply got to “be.” It’s counter-intuitive to me and at the same time so very much what I have been seeking in my own mindspace.
It’s not completely by accident. A challenge from my therapist has been to observe the space I’m in without interpreting it: five minutes at a time of just noticing what’s around me and appreciating it without assigning other meaning, interpretation or poetic license to what I see. It hasn’t been an easy exercise and yet, I have found myself doing it more and more.
So what does the sign in the picture mean? Only that I need to be more aware of traffic because they may not actually stop. Period. It makes for an anti-climatic blog post. It also makes for a more quiet world in my head.
The noise will return. The inspiration – on one side of the spectrum or the other – will be back and inspire new projects and writings. It’s just good to know where this space is and, hopefully, how to get back to it.
Dear City of Bloomington,
There is a lightbulb issue on the B-Line you might want to look into. However, it is a great reminder of the Ying and Yang of our everyday lives, the extreme prosperity and deep poverty that exist side by side in our neighborhoods and on our streets.
(Seriously, did you think it would last?)