I have gotten out of the habit of writing, I mean really writing, these blog posts. Sitting down with a blank page in front of me and trying to sort through the thoughts and emotions that are really important to me at the moment. Instead, I’ll scrounge around for a few minutes, looking for some outside inspiration or else through up something entirely superficial and (to my mind) badly written and call it a day. Because when it comes to deadlines, even self-imposed ones, it’s often better to be done than perfect. If I waited for my mind to be clear enough to really focus on what I want or need to write, this space would have been completely blank for days, if not weeks. But I’ve learned that if I stay quiet, if I don’t at least make the attempt to write, even if that writing is terrible, it becomes harder and harder every day to come back to it. And I need to come back to it. Not because I’m a writer—whatever that may mean—but because writing is how I face myself; how I face my thoughts. And a lot of times, when I’m not writing, when I find it too hard or confusing to sort through the jumble in my brain by putting it down in words, that’s actually when I need it most. And so it’s been the last couple days.
At the moment, my brain is like the darkest, most overgrown, overpopulated jungle you’ve ever seen. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the Blair Witch woods, the Vietnam of Apocalypse Now. And I’m standing on a wee strip of sandy beach, machete in hand, trying to summon up the courage to hack a path into this crazy monstrosity. There are things moving in there! Weird sounds, and I’m pretty sure the trees are actually talking to each other. But it’s my weird, creepy jungle brain and at some point, I know I’m going to have to get in there and figure out a way through. And since the pen is supposedly mightier than the sword—or the machete—that’s always been my weapon of choice and should be now.
But to be honest, I don’t know where to begin. Do I start with the disturbing news my dad dropped on me while I was home last weekend? News that I’ve discussed with my closest friends as well as my mother and still feel no closer to understanding it. Do I delve into the fact that this same news along with strange occurrences in my own heart have made me question my mortality? Or do I simply give a nod to these admittedly practical matters and drive toward the heart of what’s really bothering me, what’s always bothering me: the constant question that underlies every worry, concern, and wild-eyed switchback towards a different path. What if I’ve got it all wrong?
It’s the question that I see in Roo’s eyes every time we talk. The question that comes through in her and Vet’s words on their blog, in the emails we exchange. It’s the panic that constantly causes us to protest, “But what if…” And it is the soil from which the entire jungle currently occupying my brain grows. What if we’re doing this all kinds of wrong? What if those signs weren’t signs at all but wishful thinking? What if, what if, what if. Two against one, we gang up on each other to remind ourselves of how all the signs are there, that it’s basically impossible for us to have interpreted them wrong because what else could they mean? And for the moment, the question is quashed. We sigh with relief and admit, “Yea, I know…you’re right.” But the peace of mind doesn’t last long. The jungle grows up around us as we head home, hang up the phone, and return to our private interior worlds. The tightness behind our scared eyes creeps back in as we try to convince ourselves in inspired words that the signs mean exactly what they mean, that we should trust fate/God/the Universe and push on down our path with purpose.
But inevitably, we come to the same conclusion over and over again. Whether we’re wrong or right, whether the signs are signs or pictures in the clouds, whether our paths are leading us to our perfect happiness or a nasty reality check, there’s nothing we can do except keep going. Because we’ll never know for sure until we’re farther down the road, looking back, whether we were right or knew nothing at all. But one thing we can know for sure right now, in this exact moment, regardless of the outcome is whether it feels right. Clearing away all the fear, worries, and questions, without other people’s voices in our heads, without the ones that speak in our voice but with other people’s words, there is only one question: does this feel right?
And just like there is only one question, when I close my eyes and sort through the chaos, I know there is only one answer: Yes. So I pick up my machete, stretch my limbs, and trudge forward into that forbidding jungle. Because I don’t know what exactly is on the other side. I don’t know if I’ll even get to the other side. But I know the only way out is through.