Have you ever examined why you write?
I have, and it turned out to be different than I thought. I thought I wrote because I was bursting with something to tell, something to share. I discovered that I write because writing exposes important themes of my life and reveals my own conditioning. Writing helps me grow and to be present with what is.
I remember reading through my old journals—the kind where you pour out all your frustration on paper, everything that is wrong with your world and if only x,y or z happened, then all would be good. As I was reading, I came across the same words I had written many years before. EXACTLY.
In that moment, I saw that those words reflected a deep-seated conditioned belief that life should be going differently. It was obvious reading these identical journal entries written during completely different times of my life, that I kept getting stuck in the same line of thinking: there was something wrong that was unacceptable and I was suffering as a result.
This small moment was a pivotal one, for it forced me to acknowledge that my victim/righteousness conditioning was not serving me. It was not helping me grow or end suffering. I was forced to consider if I was so right in my judgment of x, y and z, why had my assessment not led me to peace?
After that realization, writing became a bit more like an archeological expedition, or a doorway to the subconscious. I began to realize that I was passionate about writing because it had the potential to expose me to the truth—even if it was something I did not want to see or believe about myself. It’s not easy to look at the deepest and most vulnerable shadow sides of ourselves. We risk feeling shame or unworthiness or judgment from others. But in doing so, there is also the opportunity to unconditionally love our own self.
On the flip side, while writing has shown me what I fear and struggle with, writing has also helped expose a tender and dear soul seeking not only to be understood, but to understand others—a woman committed to accepting what is and to remaining compassionate no matter what.
Just as surely as writing has exposed my own shadows—my barriers to the world—it has also exposed my heart’s desire to see below the surface to the intrinsic purity of life—the bedrock of Truth—and to spread that goodness.
Words are powerful tools that can make barriers or bridges. Reading my own writing gives me an opportunity to experience the power of words. Words can engender a feeling of helplessness or empowerment. Words can be divisive and cutting or comforting and inspiring. Words can make me defensive or help me grow and change through hard times.
The desire to write well helps me develop a “writer’s eye,” which encourages me to notice details and patterns as well as the workings of the mind, so that I can accurately capture them in my writing. Seeing the world through my writer’s eye has a secondary benefit too, for it also helps me cultivate the perspective of a witness, which in turn gives me some space from whatever drama is unfolding. That distancing ultimately helps me relax.
Writing teaches me to pay attention to it all—the good, bad, right, wrong, crying, laughing, capricious nature of life—the very traits that drive conflict into a story and add entertainment value.
Ironically, while recording conflict makes for a good story, developing the ability to step back from drama is fundamental to inner peace, or a sense of being “home.”
Writing may be a tool for communicating ideas to others, but for me, it is my most dependable way of finding my way home.