A Blank Page
Today, everything is different. Today marks the beginning of something new. Before the summer holidays Ben and I had a big chat about dreams - and while thinking about what I love, what makes me feel alive, I think about sitting, staring at a blank screen and having space to let my thoughts fill a page. So I finished my job in July and am taking the year to get stuck in and see where my words take me. No judgement, no pressure, no specific agenda. However, I do have a new pair of glasses.
So this morning, after I dropped my squeaky clean boys off to school for the first day of the new term wearing their slightly oversized trousers, crisp (slightly itchy...should have washed them, poor loves) white shirts, somewhat chavvy shoes with the hashtag #couldntfaceatriptoclarkssowenttosainsburys sewn in, I decided to go for a run to get the blood flowing before sitting down to write. I'm a bit of a funny runner. Maybe i'll write a WHOLE blog post about that one day (i can almost see your little eyes twinkle in anticipation).
I love running along the seafront. I love the beauty of the waves crashing on the shore, especially in the wind and rain, looking out to the vast expanse of the open sea and thinking about the amount of life inside it. I love the feeling of the wind in my face and the extra effort it takes to battle against it. I love the different sorts of people that walk past me. I love the sense of freedom that being on 'the edge' brings and I love the head space it gives me; the time to let my thoughts flow freely with no judgement or noise or reasoning. The space to actually notice what's around me, to pay attention to detail but not be restricted by it. When I was really poorly i'd often go and sit on the beach and just mindlessly gaze out to sea. Just looking at it always bought some calm to the paradox of sheer terror and apathy that was my mind.
As I was running, with my bottom typically further out than usual, I started thinking about what i'd like to write. How I want to use this time. What I want to communicate. I thought about the fact that I have never been and probably will never be a linear writer. That my mind has spent so many years being tangled up in so many complicated knots and that I am left with very little remnants of a reliable memory. I never really managed to properly exist in the moment growing up, so I became an adult with very little clarity around who I really was. As I run I start to think about this, what this actually means. 'Who am I? What do I actually want to say? Do I actually have anything to give that people are going to want to read?' And as I let my thoughts loose on this for a while that familiar feeling begins to rise up. The weights on my legs, the pounding in my chest, the grip around my neck, the heat in my head. Why do these thoughts provoke such a physical reaction and drive me to such a place? As the wind pushes against my body I continue to run forwards, determined not to stop. Not to allow this all too familiar physical sensation disable me. Not to freeze, to dwell, to question, but to keep moving.
A good friend once told me that creativity comes from the soul. To lose creativity is to lose your soul, and this is impossible. There is something about writing that makes me feel alive. Unlocking that place inside me that lay dormant, felt lifeless for so many years. A faint murmur of life muffled by the noises in my head. An expanse of breath suppressed by a weight of heat, agitation, fear. A place that wanted to be real. That wanted to be known.
When someone really knows you, really loves you, it feels ok. You feel connected. You feel safe. Part of something bigger. You belong to something. Someone.
I didn't really know that place existed.
I got too good at looking around me for answers, at allowing my identity to be shaped by how everybody else did it. I listened intently when my mind told me that if someone else did it differently to me, then they must be right. I felt deeply as I watched others succeed, becoming more and more grounded in who they were, as the gap between the bona fide and the counterfeit me grew wider.
Because by myself I was stupid
Because by myself I could not make responsible decisions
Because by myself I wasn't safe
And this is why those questions 'Who am I? What do I actually want to say? Do I actually have anything to give that people are going to want to read?' awakened such fear in me. Because writing is something I love. It represents so much of who i am beyond who i have chosen to be. It gives voice to some of my broken-ness, confusion, imperfection, chaos. It represents the closing of the gap, the process of removing the mask.
Scary. Empowering. Freeing.
Taking the biggest intake of breath I have ever taken and while I breathe out, aligning myself with the rawness of humanity.
And I realise that actually, we are all living in this beautiful mess together.