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Dancing Around the Edges

This is not what I want to write.

I’ve been mucking about with another blog post for hours and I’ve written a thousand words so far and I’m pretty sure that I hate about nine hundred of them. Anne Lamott would say I should keep my butt in my chair and keep writing a bad first draft, but if I’m honest the only reason I’m still here is because I’m sinking into a my couch.

Why is it that I can express myself so clearly when I’m storming about the house ranting about everything that’s wrong with the world, but when I sit down to write it all I’m like a rhinoceros at a pipe-organ? Why can I write strings of thoughts 140 characters at a time, but when I try to write a coherent paragraph I forget how the English language works?

I’m tired.

I’m tired when I go to bed, and I’m tired when I wake up. I’m tired of being tired; we’ve all been there.

Especially, I’m tired of not being able to get the words out of my head and onto the screen. They sound so good in my head.

I have such high expectations for myself, and I don’t want to waste your time. I wrote a few good things this year, things that I was proud of, things that got a few hundred comments and a few thousand shares and now I don’t want to bother with less-than-perfect ramblings that don’t end the way they should.

Perhaps this is just old-fashioned arrogance. Certainly part of it is. But I also don’t want to be self-indulgent, to waste your time with the mundane ramblings of yet another slightly-disillusioned yet ultimately-hopeful Millennial. We’re a dime a dozen these days, and I hold no illusions that my navel gazing is of general interest to you. That’s so 2005.

“Write your story”, they say.

But I keep forgetting. Sometimes I get so frustrated with all the imperfections I see (or imagine) in the world that I think I can solve them all with a series of well-reasoned arguments, neatly formatted with pictures at the top. This is what overwhelms me. Because I also know that it’s not possible, and it’s not my job. Minds are strange things, and cannot be changed in a thousand words.

It’s all a big ball of yarn, all tangled. The religion, the politics, the relationship. And tangled up is my own life, and the lives of so many friends and friends I haven’t met yet. And for all of us, I want to unravel the ball of yarn and whisper “Be free!” But I’m not sure where one strand ends and another begins and I’m tired.

All that matters is the relationships, and that’s why I do this at all. Because when I first started tossing words into the void, you told me “I thought I was the only one.” And now we both know we’re not alone.

But the internet is bigger than it used to be, and real vulnerability is risky. So I’ve learned to offer this practiced introspection, this illusion of vulnerability hidden behind layers of carefully chosen words. A bit of personal narrative from years ago, a bit of logical argument, a bit of emotional appeal and then we can all argue about it in the comments and glance at one another and feel a bit of community.

But to write my story as it happens, that’s dangerous. Because I can only write as far as I’ve lived, and I’m not exactly sure what will happen on the next page. Right now we’re between chapters. It’s a difficult place to be, but not exciting. Not dramatic. Just the routine rhythms of wake work sleep and wait. Right now it doesn’t feel like there’s much of a story to tell.

So I’m left dancing around the edges, unsure of where to begin again. Poking at the issues that frustrate me but unable to find my way to the heart. And for now, this is all I have. This moment of my story, right now with fresh coffee and a few minutes before I leave for work.

If it feels self-indulgent, I”m sorry. I’ll try to write through this and come back with more arguments and essays some day.

But maybe you’re here too, dancing around the edges with me. And maybe we can share a cup of coffee before work and for a few moments know that we’re not alone.

Really, that’s all I ever had to offer.

[ image: nomilknocry ]

published September 18, 2013

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