I've spent the morning reading a book by Rebekah Lyons called You are Free. I've read it rather tight fisted, because I hate to admit that freedom is something I struggle with. That my desire to please, impress, stay in good graces - whatever fill in the blank crazy I am chasing - often, almost always, gets the last word. But Rebekah talks about a practice called "Morning Pages", coined by another writer, who I know nothing about, but was drawn in by the phrase and practice of giving the first moments of your day to the written word. So, here you go. My first Morning Pages.
On the notion of being "free", I do feel like I have experienced freedom in many corners of my life. Some of those corners were always free, like a gift. Some are more hard fought. And some have just felt more like surrender. But what I have learned is that the more something costs, the less free I feel.
The more something costs, the less free I feel.
Writing, for me, falls into that category. It is the thing that I love, but it is the thing that makes me feel most afraid. Will I say too much? Will it seem too sad? Will it offend someone? Will I be misunderstood? God forbid, will someone not like me or judge me or be awful to me?
Maybe I am not so free.
At 41, you start to ask the questions, what else do I want to do? What is the dream that you are still chasing? What if you could do anything? I let those questions sink in, and I'll share my gut reaction.
I am embarrassed. Embarrassed to show you these raw edges. These morning pages. Any pages.
But let me tell you a story.
This Fall, I entered an essay into a writing contest. It was a Non-fiction writing contest for a reputable magazine. It was a raw and personal creative non fiction piece that I had only shared with 2 people. It seems so silly, as real writers submit their work all the time, because that's how you get published, but for me - I had never taken myself as an actual writer. So, in an act of courage, I submitted probably the most vulnerable thing I had ever written.
Months went by and honestly, time had allowed the embarrassment to wear off, and the sober realization that as honest, sincere as the words may have been, they were probably sitting in someone's virtual trashcan.
And then on February 9, an email. My essay had been chosen as a top 10 finalist out of 284 entries. I had not won, but the judge, an actual writer, who teaches writing and has made a life of writing wrote "A moving reflection on time, broken relationships, and the ways we find hope and release despite the immense weight of both."
Humbled. Do I have the courage to keep doing that? Over and Over? Maybe that was my one good essay. You know, like a one hit wonder? One and Done.
I will never know the answer to that question if I stop writing. I will perhaps save my heart from failing, most certainly that is true. But perhaps my heart would break anyway, from keeping all the words in that were meant to be let out.
Maybe that's the start of my freedom path.