In Which I Make a Confession

April 13, 2012 § 11 Comments

I lost a poem last night. I thought of it as I was falling asleep, but I did not get up to scribble it down and I cannot remember any of it now. I’ve been thinking about it all day, how it’s lost. How it might have been really good. How I didn’t have a strong enough desire for it, to chase after it. How I regret the not chasing.

I don’t know what was behind the not chasing – sleep and laziness seem too easy answers. I always have an excuse for why I do not write. And lately, as I consider writing more, I wonder if I will have anything to say, let alone anything worth saying. I wonder who would even be interested in hearing me and how people will respond when I’m laid bare on paper.

Brene Brown, who describes herself as a researcher/storyteller, is amazing. She delves into this feeling of fear and unworthiness and discovers that vulnerability lies behind both, but without vulnerability we also don’t experience joy, creativity, or love. Listen to her TED talk below. It is so worth the 20 minutes.

These are hard, but good lessons. I’m not good at being vulnerable; this post took a few weeks to write. What is most dear to me, I tend to hold silently or to let other words obscure my meaning. I have a friend who tells me often, “Keep it honest, Abi!”, another friend whose advice to “engage in the situation in the truest form of yourself” is written on my bathroom mirror, and a third friend who recently emailed me, saying:

The world is full of many things to be loved and despised but also simply seen. Don’t overlay your vision with something that’s not there. Don’t forget to take joy. Don’t try to keep your emotions at arm’s length. Experience this thing and see it as it is, however it may be right now.

I’m surrounded by this message, and yet it is still sinking in, still a daily practice. Be vulnerable. Keep chasing.

Photo credit: Naama Oshri.

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§ 11 Responses to In Which I Make a Confession

  • Leah says:

    this is extraordinary. i will not wait until 2013’s top three list: this is my favorite post. brené is perfectly framed in your reflection, and your reflection is well-rooted and shared on its own. and the poem—that beautiful poem! i hope you find it. absolutely lovely, abigail.

    • Leah says:

      and your chasing the poem? it reminds me of mom’s “missing gifts” every holiday, as she inevitably pops up from amidst the wrapping paper to run and get whatever it was she had forgotten. it reminds me of our joy on finding a gift we didn’t even know was missing. it reminds me that most everything turns up eventually, even lost poems. : )

  • CurtissAnn says:

    I give thanks for you in the world! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and yourself. I, too, have a life-long struggle to know and be known, to value my vulnerability, I think. Wonderful post, a gift.

  • Betsy says:

    A paragraph I keep on my wall: One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

    -Annie Dillard

    • Ah Annie Dillard, good stuff. “The impulse to save” – that’s me to a T. I want to become a frivolous spender. But you know, one who can still pay the proverbial rent. Maybe it’s the worrying that makes all the difference. Thanks for these good words!

  • Anna says:

    courageous and beautiful, Abi

  • Jill P says:

    That was intensely inspiring. It makes me want to write more and read more and do more and now i keep thinking: Why am I not doing those things?

    Also, I lose poems at a rate of one per week and it’s because of laziness (and that weird nearly asleep haze). Now I no longer have an excuse for losing them other than my own stupidity.

    :)

  • Dawn says:

    I loved this. I consider this post such a gift to us who read it. Thank you, Abi.

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