Maybe I’m arrogant to think that there are people out there who are desperate to have me write something new, but, yes, I feel guilty about not having anything to say for more than a month now.
It’s not because I’m too busy. I’m not. I’ve had plenty of time to watch television shows from the early 1990s and play 234,022 games of Spider on my iPad.
It’s not because I have nothing to say. I have plenty to say. I always have plenty to say.
It’s not because I haven’t tried, or because I have writer’s block. I’ve started to write several new things in the last month.
Sometimes words just don’t meet our needs.
Words have always been my friends. My brother taught me to read when I was three years old, and I read everything I could lay my chubby little hands on. I loved to write, too. I liked to see the letters taking shape under a pencil. When my best friend moved away right after kindergarten, I loved writing letters to her. (Letter-writing is something that I believe is dying, and I miss it, honestly.) Later, I started writing in journals. Words helped me to understand other people’s thoughts, and they help me to keep my own thoughts together.
In the last several years, when I was buried beneath an overwhelming work schedule, I depended on words and the internet to keep some of my friendships alive. This wasn’t a bad thing—if I hadn’t kept up with people that way, I would have been completely isolated from everyone but my students. Now I still depend on social networking to keep in touch with friends I can’t see in person, people I would have once kept up with via long letters on graph paper.
But right now, my words are failing me.
I think I’m struggling with them because I’m too aware that they are just not enough sometimes. For the last several weeks, I’ve had a stack of stationery, a pen, and an envelope sitting on my desk. I need to write a letter, and it sits there, accusing me. (It’s one of those letters where I need to say thank you to someone who gave everything he had and got kicked in the pants for it. Somehow, I have to figure out how to tell him that his job mattered to me.)
When I write, or even when I speak, I fear that it’s always all about me. When I blog, write in a journal, or even write a letter, it’s about what’s going on with me. Even if I try to write to you about what’s going on in your world, it’s from my perspective. I’m having the same frustration in my conversations with friends, too. My friends are all excellent listeners, and I’m grateful for that, but I’m kind of tired of hearing my stories. I really just wish I would shut up sometimes.
I can’t think of a single thing that I could write or say that would help me to know you better, and sometimes that’s really what I crave. This year, since I’ve been out among people again, I’m relearning the value of listening to someone else’s tone of voice, reading the smiles of a good friend, and the language of doing rather than saying. It has been good.
Am I finished writing? No, I’m sure I’m not. The other thing I’ve learned in the last year is that I can learn from you when I talk. My stories bring out your stories. If I confide my secrets, you learn to trust me. Maybe, just maybe, if I say the right things, you can see yourself in my words instead of just seeing me.
Meanwhile, I have a few things brewing in the files. Just be patient with me.