DIG ME A GRAVE, FOR I KNOW I AM USELESS… OR IS THERE STILL A CHANCE FOR MERCY?
I think many of us can relate with the fleeting comfort of strongly worded sentiments during times of emotional distress. That’s how the title of this entry was birthed. I have been sad lately, and then feeling dumb about being sad. My therapist would be so disappointed in me. I am supposed to have learned how to create a little space between me and my feels, and not to judge them. When I learned how to use mindfulness meditation, I could observe a feeling, acknowledge it, learn from it, and then let it float away, like a cloud passing by a snowy mountain in Japan. Sometimes this cycle would complete within minutes, and sometimes it took a few days, but when I was healthier emotionally, I would maintain feeling like the mountain, and not like I was sitting atop the stormy cloud on a magic-carpet-ride of despair. But lately, I have been more at the mercy of the clouds.
I’m acquainted with many creative people, which means that I have heard a common lament of creative minds; they really want to be creative, but some mysterious demon stands in their way. It’s writer’s block, or not enough time, or not enough resources, or depression, or just an unnamed, vacuous enemy that seems to paralyze them when they know they ought to create. Lately, this has been my experience.
I have been trying to name my foe to no avail. “It’s no ones fault but your own,” I tell myself, “you’re the loser here.” I weigh myself down with insults so that I get what I deserve, and I wonder to myself, “For someone who’s been saying they want to be a writer for years, the output has been shockingly low.” What does this say about who I am? My character? My vocation? I enumerate every passing day that I fail to bring into existence those damn stillborn sentences, and reject the call of God on my life. Like Jonah, who failed to preach about Yahweh’s love to the people of Nineveh, I wish someone would throw me overboard, so that I’d get what I deserve.
Okay, yes, I agree that last paragraph was a bit harsh. I sometimes try to force myself into obedience using cruel whips. But I’m so tired of that method--it does not work. That stubborn Jonah did get tossed into the sea, and he thought he was about to drown, but in a strange twist he was swallowed by a sea animal. The fatty beast held Jonah in the goo of her bowels for a few days. And what did Jonah do while he was there?
That grumpy, asshole prophet wrote a poem. (Something I haven’t done in months.)
One of the things he says in the poem is, “Those deceived by worthless things lose their chance for mercy.” Some of the worthless things I’ve been distracted by lately have been stealing my freedom. I had forgotten that all the matters is love, and I don’t mean that in a vague way. I mean that if I have particular talents or abilities, there is no question that I am meant to use them to love and serve others. That reminder helps me express myself freely, in contrast to the scary bondage of creating for ego, approval, or status.
I was also reminded of something about myself. I decided to go to grad school a couple years ago, not to just “find my voice,” but to make sure that the suffering I experienced in my life would not go wasted. I wanted to process my more “colorful” experiences in a way that would allow me to communicate a story of hope to fellow-sufferers. How did I forget that part of my intention?
And here I am, writing this blog post on a Tuesday night.
As an addendum, something else that motivate me is this: The cultural waters that we swim in these days are so thoroughly consumeristic, and it’s damaging for our souls. It is not enough to just not consume and not purchase in excess. We must replace liturgies of consumerism with liturgies of generosity and creativity, otherwise I feel we might right-swipe each other to death.
I’m praying this is a day where I’ve really let go of a chunk of that ego garbage in exchange for loving creativity. Jonah wrote that poem when he was inside the belly of the fish, not after he landed on the beach and started walking towards Nineveh (where he was supposed to be headed all along). I may not have my feet on the sand yet, but I haven’t drowned, so maybe now’s my chance for mercy.