There is talk.
Of not giving sway to fear. And oh, but yes! I used to sit and write with no worry of who's eyes might find way to this page; wrote with wild, fervent abandon, in powerful tones, in delicious compositions of jargon and dialect, interchanging inflection at whim when necessary to fit the form of whatever tirade I might be chasing. And then a tragedy hit, clubbed my beloved, and people who had no desire before to pay heed to what I said suddenly cared, tuned in, got in line online, and words once free and brave became entrapped, as if beneath a microscope's scrutiny. I have written, I dare say religiously for thirty-five years yearning for someone to care, and over the course of a few months I was confronted by an audience, whether or not they were my intended audience, whose reactions have caved in the previous gusto and abandon with which I spun what I had to say. There has been plenty of positive feedback. That, I try to gratefully accept, ever-cautious to keep in mind that I am barely eloquent, and hardly approaching the literary realm that I aspire to inhabit, even though I'm not above my species in its weakness for flattery. However, the negative responses, and there haven't been many, which seem always to take the shape and guise of passive-aggression or underhanded subtle retaliation, which, (again I must iterate they are few,) leave me reeling. There have been few opportunities for honest expression about losing one's healthy, able-bodied spouse to a foreign landscape of uncertainty, constant labor, and a rearrangement of all future plans. It seemed many times I tried to put into words the nature of such radical change outside of writing, I was expected to either spout or assume a cause-and-effect platitudinous script of another's making. I realized quickly that I'd been given a specific community and familial role without audition that I was expected to maintain for the wellbeing of onlookers who had no idea what my life was about. And any time I sat to write my frustration at this un-welcomed role I found myself paralyzed with anxiety knowing that these same parties, though not my intended audience, were audience nonetheless. I choked every time. I have draft-after-draft from the last few months, begun but discarded. And in those months I've barely written a couple of new poems and squeezed out a few pages of fiction. But no essays; nothing raw and honest, and I've felt stilted and resentful and stymied.
We have here a new year, a shifting paradigm for our nation, and the need for strong voices and art and the bravery to tell stories that will change hearts, motivate action. And oh! How I feel the call. I find myself, ordering lines, structuring texts in my thoughts, (because good writing isn't about manipulating words as much as it is being able to entertain an extended line of imagery entangled with pathos and logic) and in this rich internal space where I work I might discover myself laughing aloud or openly weeping, say in the freezer aisle of the supermarket, on the treadmill at the gym, in the middle of traffic, the halls of the university, next to strangers in an elevator. I'm brimming with motivation, compelled by the political climate, driven by a vision of faith that conflicts with my religious culture. But in order to proceed there is no room for fear.
I'm not about to meet expectation. I'm not the woman so many want me to be, nor will I behave as I am told. I do not write with the intention to hurt, though reflection on painful problems in order to uncover truth isn't without discomfort even for the writer. We must acknowledge the darkness within ourselves to embrace the edges where the light begins. I am not foreigner to my own evil, my pettiness, my soft places of easiest compromise. Do not be afraid to be human on this road with me. I am a lover of broken things; it is how we put them back together again that creates the beauty in this world.
I want to be a part of that act.