The wonder of writing
Writing at one time in my life was something that I actually hated to do. In school it was something you did for grade credit, which was of course work, though if truth be told…. at times I have to say I did enjoy it. Then there were letters, which I have never liked writing, which for most of my very large family seems to be true. So yes for the first three quarters of my life writing had little or not importance for me. Then, in my 58th year, I started having these dreams that to be frank astounded me. I guess over a year period I had a variation of this dream three times or perhaps four….who is counting right? I remember the first dream I had. I saw myself in front of a computer screen typing very fast and all of these thoughts and words were streaming out of me, it seemed endless. I woke up and thought what in the world that was about! The second dream was like the first, but it was only the screen with the words coming up in rapid sequence. The third and final dream was just a stream of thoughts that seemed to have a life of their own; no computer or screen. These dreams stumped me, since again; I really did not enjoy writing.
In 1999 I discovered the internet and loved it. So many sites, so much to read and yes learn. I went to yahoo groups and discovered sites that dealt with different religious beliefs and also sites were these different beliefs would debate each other. These included of course Christians, Hindu’s, Moslem’s, Satanist and Atheist. The majority being Christians and Atheist, who partook in this form of communication with great gusto and also, often, without any regard to the actual truth to much that was slung at each other. It was a whole new world for me. I guess that is when I had the desire to write, to be able to express what I believed in actual paragraphs that made some kind of sense. So I started to partake and many of those who participated in the debates intuited what I was trying to do and helped me along the way.
So many thoughts, how to put them in a sequential way that others could follow! It was slow going the first year. My sentences were too long (actually, often they still are) and I had trouble with using periods and comma’s and semi colons, which I still have not mastered. Yet with encouragement I persevered and also with the help of spell check….I also really suck at spelling, I limped along at an ever faster pace. Though the hardest thing to learn is not to take the anger and at times the hatred for my belief‘s personally…..now that took some time, can’t say I have truly mastered that yet!
I then went to some Christians sites, which I found boring and not being a fundamentalist, I was often not welcomed and kicked off many sites and at times not understanding why. In other fundamental Christian sites I was welcomed and accepted, even if I was a Roman Catholic. All in all it was a good experience and I learned first hand the polarization that exist between peoples of different world views, be it religious or political. Which actually seems to get worse; but I don’t trust that ‘feeling’, for that is what it is. There is just more access on the internet to the ‘conversation’ going on between different perspectives of the world.
Then I discovered blogs in 2004 and created one for myself and started to write on it everyday; a discipline I made myself work with and I feel it also helped me to write on a different level. It was then I made the discovery that writing can actually be a tool of healing and also insight to what is actually going on inside of me. Much of the time, things seemed to write themselves. I would start off with a simple idea and then it would sort of ‘rock and roll’ on its own. It was difficult to post some of my thoughts, but the healing did not seem to take hold unless I shared it, or gave birth to it, or as a friend once told me, to get it out of my head. It did not matter if anyone actually read what I posted, for I tend to be long winded when writing (this piece being an example), but that did not seem to matter, though it was fun to get some comments once in a while.
I also learned that writing is like a mirror for the one who reads. Some comments made me go back over what I wrote to see if he was talking about my post. Sometimes I could see where he got the idea, at others I was at a loss, yet it was a good learning experience. It also taught me that I must do the same thing as well, when I read some of the ruminations of others. Actual objectivity was impossible, which was at times a painful realization. For I wanted to write to communicate, but was learning how very difficult that was, no matter what the style used.
No two people write for the same reason. I write to unload, for my mind is overactive, races and I can’t seem to shut off the inner voices, which yes are me, just fragmented bits that demand to be heard. Sort of like the ‘army’ mentioned in the I Ching and perhaps writing gives a voice to them.
I learned long ago that in speaking to a friend on an intimate level (which is something I rarely do) was also something that I found revitalizing. Perhaps it is all about being seen (at least for me). I grew up in a large family, I am the 3rd of 10, well 11 but Michael died three days after birth. So being heard over the noise was difficult. So perhaps writing for me is about simply being seen and heard. Not only from others, but also I am learning to listen to what is actually going on inside of me. I guess it took me 50 years to get to the point wherein I could communicate with both the darker aspects of myself, as well as those with a bit more light to them. It seems an unending mess, but one I am learning to love and not fight that which is within me.
When young, I read Carl Jung and he is still one of my favorite authors. He kept talking about Archetypal influences and at first I sort of understood them, but now I experience them in my writings and poetry. I guess writing gives them a voice and in doing so I experience at times a deep inner peace after they have spoken. Angel and devil, they both live within me as well as everything else. Just pieces of a puzzle slowly coming together bit by bit…. and let me tell you I am lousy at putting puzzles together. I wonder if one day I will no longer feel the need to write. If that last piece will ever find a place of rest of finding peace. Probably not, for I think new pieces are created everyday that have to be dealt with.
Some people write to make a living and they have something important to share, for we each bring to the table different perspectives that are in the end important. Some write beautiful stories that help me to see that we all share a common humanity, which allows actual communication to happen, even if it can be very difficult at times. Some write to teach, others to accompany us on our journey and those who press a religious or political perspective on their readers. Each is important and has their place. The internet today gives a voice to anyone who wishes to express themselves that was impossible just a few years ago. Though I hope the playing field is not too level. For there are truly great writers who need to be published and heard, who have truths and stories that need to be saved and treasured. I hope this is not lost in the ‘babel’ that can be the darker side of easy communication of ideas that are made possible by the World Wide Web.
It is true; I am still a hack at it. My sentences are still often too long, I struggle with periods and commas, and often my thoughts can run together, which over an eleven year period has improved a little. Perhaps if I write until I am eighty, I will arrive at some kind of perfection, but if not, well that is ok to. I just want to give the inner voices a platform where they can speak and I am often surprised what they say. Some things are dark, others light filled and still others simply confused and lost……yeah perhaps I am just a normal human being just trying to make it through the day after all.
Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery