Finding Rituals For Writing From The Heart
A strange mood has descended upon me. It is as though I have slipped into a middle space between objective, conscious reality and the land of the unconscious. I have been here before and it usually serves as a harbinger of intensive psychological work or of a spell of darkness. This time, I have a sense that I am being gently guided to finishing a work that has occupied me for the last five months.
The work is a re-telling of my life, at least the first twenty years of my life with my family of origin. The re-telling has been attempted several times in the past with varying levels of success. The first time I managed to fill twenty-five pages. The second time it grew larger. The third time it changed into a series of flashback scenes that somehow needed to fit into what I had consciously put down onto paper. This time, the work is growing and taking shape as a single unit with an obvious life-trail, my life, flowing through it. What has happened to make this work?
Before I answer that question, I need to set a framework, a container of context. In the re-telling of one’s story, as the story begins to emerge out of the past, current daily life becomes impacted. And, current daily life serves to trigger flashbacks that lead back to the story being told. Complexes get activated and as I try to make sense of the fallout from those moments of activation, I learn more about my past story. It is as though the darkness hiding these scenes is being stripped away, one layer at a time to reveal a naked and vulnerable soul of a young Robert once known as Bobby, Robert (at school) and Robert (French pronunciation). However, this peeling away of layers didn’t happen consciously. Rather, it took a subtle change in how I wrote. I was writing to heal, to expose the scars to the sunlight, to expose them to the light of consciousness so that the air and light could work its magic. It was a strategy that I learned as a teenager when it looked like the darkness was going to win.
As a teenager, I took my pain into an open meadow surrounded by trees, stripped off my clothing and cried while hugging myself. The meadow bathed in sunshine was my safe sanctuary where I would read poetry and then write while my clothing at on the ground near my feet. When this memory surfaced, I found myself, now as a person well on his way to old age, doing the same thing. With writing sans vêtements I found the words arriving, words and scenes that flooded my heart and brain. They had been waiting for me to approach them totally vulnerable, and with that vulnerability, a trust developed.
I have tried retreating from this awkward practice of writing while my clothes sit in a pile, but when I try writing like a normal person with my clothing on, a chilling silence develops. It took me a few times, actually a lot of time, before I finally clued in that “it is what it is” and to trust it. So, I write while nude, as natural as I can be as a human. After all, I am a part of nature, just as much as the Pronghorn in the photo.