Some days the sky breaks open in so many places that there is no sun or warmth, and the world shakes beneath all the houses and streets. Some days the clouds do not part, and the grass refuses to grow. Some days the universe seeks to break hearts, as if to say “Only some of this matters.”
“Some days” are happening for me right now. And though I know I’ll come through the other side of things eventually, today I am not ok; today I am feeling like I am not one of those things that matters to the universe.
Days like these, I walk from room to room not knowing what to do with myself. Days like these I force the dogs to cuddle with me even when they’d rather play. I kiss their faces as if they knew what kisses were and let the heat coming off their heads warm my lap. Days like this I eat everything in sight or else nothing at all, trying to find out which one feels more soothing, only to realize that there is no such things as being soothed at the moment.
I sit down to write, hoping that something distracting will come to mind and the hours will fly past in a whirl of literary catharsis. But such healing hours do not come, are not coming, and instead all I can write about is that which hurts, that which hounds me and follows me even in sleep. But as tortuous as it is to write, I can’t imagine a life where I wouldn’t have it to turn to. What if my only options were work, family, friends, and TV? What if I had no real creative outlet? I imagine I might inadvertently hold all my emotions inside like some sentient-repressed curmudgeon, to then have all those thoughts and feeling curdle inside and turn me sour. I’ve seen this happen, have seen people hold everything in and then explode every few years in fiery rampages, much to the confusion of everyone around them. I refuse to let myself be one of those people.
I’ve talked about what a burden writing can be—the sheer heft of the commitment it takes to really make a go of the writer’s life. But I don’t always remember to say what comfort writing can be as well. To at least have the urge to sit down and type, to compose in my head while driving, to read in search of tools of the craft I might make my own–these things are small consolation, but they are consolation indeed.
The last time I suffered this way, I wondered if it were perhaps my fate to continuously go through shit, so that I would in turn have some shit to write about. I can’t help but think of the tortured lives of such literary greats as Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, both Fitzgeralds, and of course my beloved Ernest Hemingway. Great success in their literary endeavors, but in their personal lives—not so much.
Is this the price of being a writer? Is this the fate I am doomed to live out? I really hate alcohol and have no intention of jumping off of any bridges in Minnesota or sticking my head into any ovens. So, perhaps not. Perhaps I will simply use this experience as I use every other: to fuel my writing and propel me forward. I am not ok today, but there will be a different kind of “some day” down the line and on that day, I’ll be ok again.