What I love about writing you these weekly letters is that I get to watch the practice deepen over time. With deepening come noticing – which days I’m off and which I’m on. Goes for any practice, really, even making breakfast at home. Sometimes I just have a good oatmeal day.
The days I’m off can be even more informative. I might notice I’m not as bendy, my vision not as wide. When I have a good writing day I see multiple variants of a sentence as I’m typing and recognize myself choosing one over the others. Other times I see only one way of writing a sentence and it doesn’t feel right and why doesn’t it feel right oh I’ll go back and fix it later.
Then there will be the rare event that sweeps like a rogue wave over my life and practice. After X happened what I noticed when I sat down to write was feeling raw. It was like trying to describe a Jackson Pollock to someone who’s never seen a Jackson Pollock. Where do I start. I could name colors, talk about paint splatters, I could use metaphor but unless they’d stood face to face with one it would only go so far. And as I described this painting, my memory of the original seeing would itself change. It would become my description. Time corrodes and words are a poor restoration job; they make parts of the painting brighter and sharper than the original.
Is it possible to preserve anything?
When I sat down after X, I felt the rawness of emotions not yet corrupted by words. Something had ruptured and with each sentence I was turning the heavy crank of the machinery that would once again seal the dam. I was finding meaning, which would become theory, which would then be applied to future situations and lead to the same misunderstandings that got me here in the first place. This realization made me incredibly sad, and hopeful.
I left the screen – was pulled away, actually – after having barely started writing about X, and I haven’t come back to it with the thoroughness and attempted sense-making of my usual daily journaling. I suppose this, here, to you, is my way of writing about it but not writing about it, my way of keeping some part of it, at least, raw.
And I think you already know what it is. I think you’ve seen this painting before.