In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
What does this say about my relationship to my personal writing? Especially when I am blocked? How do my blocks to writing become the way to writing?
Break it down, starting with my deep-seated belief that only writing that is produced when I am fully connected to my heart’s and mind’s center – to my Core – is valuable. If I am writing, and I am not convinced that I am connected to that deepest Core, it’s not valuable. If I am writing thoughts and feelings, or describing images, but perhaps am not feeling fully engaged with my essence, and am even remotely distracted, it’s not valuable. I entertain this belief. Therefore, I believe that I am capable of writing shit. Which means that I have imposed limits on myself, and on my writing, limits on when and what I should write. My limits tell me that I should only write when I’m in the Stream. I should only write when it’s “valuable.” But then it’s no longer a free experience, but a painful struggle, to get to the Stream first, then write. So I am stuck. I don’t know if I should be writing at all. So I don’t. I can’t. Blocked.
But what if the way I get to that Stream is through the ACT of writing? Even if (especially if) that writing is a struggle, that it’s effort, and it’s hard to stay focused when the words that I see forming on the page, angrily and heavily, are short staccato fragments without any real rhythm? Does that writing have any value?
Well I know that writing from the Block doesn’t feel good. The ink sputters from my pen in scratchy letters, forming words on rough pulpy paper, in irregular patterns of size and form. It’s quite unattractive. It is dry and smoky, like the end of a day in which I’ve inhaled too many cigarettes. I am reprimanding myself for giving into my physical addictions to distract me, to blow a cloud of nicotine waste over my tender bloody heart in an effort to desensitize it, to stop it from bleeding, tearing, breaking, crumbling apart.
My tender, bloody heart…. What is that? Why is it tender? How did it get bloody and messy? One minute it is strong and healthy and radiant, glowing with a thrumming glean of pulses and simple hues. The next I notice that something has caused a slight rupture, a tear…. There, over there on the right, a hairline fracture, small but distinct, a dark, smoky, sooty tear causing irritation and inflammation, tenderness and bleeding…
How should I respond? I don’t know. The truth is, I don’t want to respond. It’s too much work, my heart is too needy. I say to it, “Why didn’t you take better care of yourself and not allow yourself to get hurt?!” I’m pushing it away, turning away; it’s ugly, I don’t love it, I don’t want it. The elegant, beautiful heart that I loved so much just a minute ago has now been compromised by an ugly rupture filled with insecurity and sadness. I don’t feel sorry for it. I reject it. I blame it for the state it’s in, and don’t want anything to do with it anymore. It wasn’t strong enough! Pathetic!
And who do I see walking towards me? It’s my brash, obnoxious ego (“Ms. Ego” to you), agreeing with my disappointment and self-criticism, wasting no time flinging insults. She immediately gangs up on my heart, and I’m with her, I’m all in. In fact I want nothing more than to sneak off with Ms. Ego and partake in childish, mind-numbing, destructive behavior, piling up even more insults, more smoke, more decay….
But wait, would I really? Could it be that my heart is still my essence, no matter how it may look to me in this instance, in this temporary perspective? Could it be that Ms. Ego is just a petulant child exuding coldness and that the trace fracture across my heart is temporary, and actually interesting, because now I see that it wasn’t caused by Ms. Ego at all? It was threatened by her and erupted from the inside, from the depths of me, because it heard my voice and wanted to be seen, heard and known.
I see that now: Ms. Ego is pursing her lips, snarling even, hair all crazy, holding a martini, flashing a candy-apple red manicure and giving me her best tough-sexy-bitch glare.
I turn away from Ms. Ego. I turn fully back to my Heart, still holding itself, tender and bloody and sooty. But as I focus on her, and on the rupture, with compassion and interest, a funny thing happens. The tear seems to stir a little, there’s activity, sparkling sonnets of light flash around like little fireflies. They are enchanting. I am wanting to draw closer, closer to my Heart, my essence, to the wound, to the new beginnings that seem to be forming, heralded in my light and fusion and color. I see delicate streams of blood orbiting my heart. I see sparkling light grow brighter and denser. The light and the color are SO mesmerizing that I cannot look away! I’m thoroughly captivated! And suddenly I realize that I too am surrounded by crystalline light and warm gushes of beauty and melodic vibration, singing the most compelling harmonies I have ever heard.
There is no “I.” There is no Heart. There is no sooty, dark rupture. There is certainly no ego. It is all beauty and all love. There is no distinction of an Other. We are one.
Tears release, cleansing and pure, and bring me back into time and space. Adapted. I pick up my pen and I begin again, from within my stronger, more mature Heart, who knows me as I know Her. I write, I love, I am grateful. We are stronger, we are deeper together, we beat together in meaningful resonance.
And Ms. Ego? She’s still at the bar on her second martini, trying to hide a broken red nail.