Natalie Goldberg writes in her book, Writing Down to the Bones:
“The problem is we think we exist. We think our words are permanent and solid and stamp us forever. That’s not true. We write in the moment. Sometimes, when I read poems at a reading to strangers, I realize they think those poems are me. They are not me, even if I speak in the “I” person. They were my thoughts and may hand and the space and the emotions at that time of writing. Watch yourself. Every minute we change. It is a great opportunity. At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin fresh. That is how writing is. Instead of freezing us, it frees us.
The ability to put something down—to tell how you feel about an old husband, an old shoe, or the memory of a cheese sandwich on a gray morning in Miami—that moment you can finally align how you feel inside with the words you write; at that moment you are free because you are not fighting those things inside. You have accepted them, become one with them.”
Writing about past experiences here at this little blog of mine sometimes is awkward. I have heard from readers who have applied what they’ve found here to my present life; accused me of holding too tightly to the past and feelings of resentment. But that’s not true at all, and it’s why I fell in love with the quote above. At the moment you write about an experience, you are free because you are not fighting those things inside. You have accepted them, become one with them.
“Becoming one” and accepting things that are incredibly painful is heart wrenching and difficult. That’s why only 8 years after my divorce I can write about it. Remembering isn’t difficult – those feelings are forever accessible – but writing them down requires the sort of processing that heals. Like after a soul-bearing conversation with trusted friends, the written word can soften the sharp places and ease forgiveness like little else can.
I crave more conversations like that, and also more words. They’re coming, just as soon as I process them all.