I haven’t written much lately, because I haven’t had much to say.
The reason I haven’t had much to say isn’t that not much has happened, but rather, too much. A million different thoughts have been flying through my head, too fast to be put into words. Without words, I can’t make sentences, and without sentences, I can’t write posts. When you want someone to describe a tornado, you don’t ask them while they’re in it.
It’s two months since Grandpa died, and only five since Grandma, and I haven’t got my head wrapped around it yet. Perhaps the day Dad hands me whatever trinkets I inherit from them, it’ll sink in. The portrait from their fiftieth wedding anniversary sits on a shelf above my reading chair. I look at it every day.
Before that, I started this blog. Bound determined to write weekly. You know how that’s turned out.
Before that, my job set me up to work from home, which is good, but an upset and a scramble nonetheless.
Before that, a little over a year ago, God showed me what I’d denied, that I had these massive walls around my heart that needed to come down. And I said, “Have at it!”
This past month, I’ve been working on finding a new place to live in May. However, what started with an apartment-hunt ended with buying a townhouse. I’m not sure what happened there. Not that I mind. I haven’t closed on it yet; that should happen this week, after signing my name a couple dozen more times, scanning things, and then paying extra postage to get them to the bank in good time.
And then I got a flat tire. And a bent wheel.
And then I went on a blind date. Which was fun, but I’d never been on a date before. Do you want to know about nerves? I’ll tell you about nerves.
There’s a line from Doctor Who that comes to mind: “Head’s too full of stuff. I need a bigger head!”
Writing takes time. Not just the time it takes to type things out. Ideas have to be arranged, tested, expanded, and edited. It needs to make sense. It needs to be clear. “Composition” is the right word: whether fiction or non-fiction, there has to be some kind of thread to follow. The author needs to establish the thread in his own mind before he can expect a reader to get it. The more my head is stuffed with thoughts, the harder it is to create a thread. I haven’t had time to process it all. My brain’s been doing so much thinking that I’ve lost track.
That’s normal. Given what’s been going on, I’d be worried if my head wasn’t a mess of tangled thoughts.
“Normal” doesn’t mean it should stay that way, however. It’s normal for a house to lose its roof to a tornado, but that doesn’t mean you don’t put another one on. There’s a time to be numb, to let the shock fade, to let the swelling go down, so to speak. But I can’t leave it like that. If I leave it like that, it’ll all sit and fester and develop scars and ulcers and other nasty things. It’s emotional constipation, and eventually, you have to do something.
It doesn’t have to be coherent.
That’s hard for me. I’ve got a perfectionism streak. And I don’t like long processes. So I’m sitting here trying to come up with something that has form even as part of me is reduced to gibbering. I have to tell myself that it’s okay if it’s just a stream of consciousness, that my computer’s got plenty of space for a bunch of text files, that paper is cheap and nobody cares if I fill notebooks with barely legible narratives. (When I get into this townhouse, I’ll have space to store them, too!) The point isn’t elegant prose. The point is writing. Getting it out. Getting it said. Thoughts laid out on paper become less jumbled. An unassembled puzzle doesn’t fit inside its own frame. It’s easier to solve if you spread the pieces out. I’m kinda jealous of Professor Dumbledore’s Pensieve, a magic bowl for holding memories and thoughts when your head’s too full to make sense of them.
Paper and pen are almost as good.
There’s the other side that isn’t thoughts, that’s pure emotion, pure feeling. It’s harder to get at, directly. For those, you have to have things like sports, or work, or art. In this I’ve been stymied by my persistent lack of piano. Which is why there was a recent blast of calligraphy all over my Twitter. And why I talked to my church about popping into the sanctuary in the evenings to take advantage of the large and beautiful piano there. (Seven. Foot. Kawai. Grand. Yes.) What the emotion is tied to doesn’t matter all that much. If it’s based on wrong things, I need to let the emotion out before I can deal with that. If it’s based on right things, then they deserve to be expressed. Either way, it’s got to come out. And music gets to me in a way nothing else does. It relieves the pressure. It gets to where it hurts. Which means I cry, but what’s wrong with that?
And I need to remember that I don’t have to have the words. That’s the part that I have trouble with. I always have to have the words. I insist on it. Not to show off or make myself look smart, but because things are easier to grasp when they have a name. Because if there’s a name for it, you can Google it. You can look up dictionaries and encyclopedias. Because clearly, if it has a name, someone has done the research. I’m not alone. I’m not adrift. Also, there’s stuff to learn, and I love it when there’s stuff to learn. (Nerdy? Me?) Not having words makes me feel lost and small. I can’t get my bearings. I keep thinking that I should know this one.
Stupid me. There’s a lot in the universe that no one knows, and the human brain can only work so fast. And I’m a fan of theological tensions, so I don’t have an excuse. A thing doesn’t have to be comprehensible to be real. I believe everything makes sense, but not necessarily a kind of sense that a human being can grasp. We still don’t know what gravity is, for crying out loud.
But God does.
He’s got the words for all of it, in a better language than mine. He’s patient – more patient than me, probably because time works differently for him (at least, I believe so), and while I’m stuck living this life day by day and minute by minute, he sees the whole thing laid out like a parsed sentence. He’s not waiting at the end for me to reach him, or at the top of the mountain I’m climbing, or at the heart of the maze I’m in. He’s with me in the mayhem. He’s with me, even when I don’t know where I am. I might be lost in relation to the world, but I know where he is. And this is just another thing that he understands and I don’t. That list is already pretty long – what’s one more thing?
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” —Romans 8:26-27, ESV
I don’t know what I’ll write about, if I write next week. I don’t know if my life’s done being crazy, or if there’s more to come. Honestly, I wish it would stop. But I don’t have any control over that. What I have control over is how I deal with it. What I have control over is what I believe about times like these. What I have control over is remembering that the rest can take care of itself.
We’re so small. Sometimes all we can do is grab hold and hang on, and when that happens, sometimes that’s all we need to do.