Some Trouble

Lately I’ve been having some trouble writing. Particularly here on my blog. I suppose I have blog writing block. I am going to write about that today, to pass through it a bit. Feel free to skim or skip over this post if that isn’t your thing.

Ordinary Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe trouble with blog writing block is the dates. The dates of each post keep me honest, tell the story of where I left off and how long it has been. I was sort of shaken by the fact that Reverb15 had come around again so quickly. I tried to roll into it again. I have two started-unfinished posts. They felt wooden. So I stopped.

Recently I told my friend Susan that I would swap her a Demand Poem for an old Kindle she had. So she asked me would I write a poem about being blocked. She said: “I would like a poem that I can read that inspires me. One to help me feel inspired the way I do when people tell me: I love your art. I started gardening because of you. I don’t feel confident in my abilities always. I thought I could read your poem on those days and it would help me feel that way.”

The Interchangeability of Ordinariness

I knew what she meant. We’d just finished reading “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” for book club. The book was about an old man taking a long walk across England (south to north) on his, sort of, road to redemption for many unresolved troubles in his past.

Harold was walking for a long time before anyone other than his wife paid any attention to him. He was an living ghost, passing through people’s days, in ordinary clothes, doing an ordinary thing. Just walking.

But at the same time, it came to be that people noticed. People followed him. So the ordinary became realized and seen. It became extraordinary. Harold was walking HUNDREDS of miles, in boat shoes, without much to sustain him.

Soon more of the book became external. More of the story happened outside of Harold’s observations of plants and insects. More of the story became a reflection of how other people saw Harold, and what he can, could and should do for them.

Eventually, Harold let them all down. Harold’s idea of walking and the others’ did not synchronize. They left to walk another way. And the absence of the external overwhelmed Harold. He fell into a depression. Not because he believed he was extraordinary. But because he’d never known the difference, and the ordinariness he perceived was too much to bear. He didn’t matter.

From the time we are born, we are our own person. However, for very long we must  rely on others for love and support to make us whole. By the time we feel safe enough to wander alone, the idea of alone is not only foreign, it feels impossible.

But: alone is essential. Our body and its mind is a sarcophogus around our individual experience. There are those we are in tune with, those we walk easily in step with, those whom we feel “a part of”.

But we are not. In the end, we shuffle off this mortal coil alone. This is ordinary.

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.” –Pema Chodron

So, that is how I broke the blog writing block. In an ordinary way. By reading a book. By talking to some friends. By having breakfast with Susan, and — finally — by putting my fingers on the keyboard and saying: you are alone in this. There may be reading outside of here, but the point is the point and that is writing, in which you are alone.

 

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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