Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time.
~ Theodore Roethke
(From the poem “The Flight” in The Lost Son, 1948)
A couple days ago, I wrote about the less than empathic thoughts that arise in my thoughts in response to the behaviors I notice in other human beings. I wrote about my shame for giving any kind of credence to them and sometimes even allowing my self to wallow in them and feel justified in giving rise to anger, impatience, and irritability.
I clicked “post” and sent my vulnerabilities and demons out into the world, showing my self in all my rawness to whoever might take the time to notice.
I could feel the nervousness building in the hours that followed. Would people write horrible things in response? Was I alone in this pattern? I began thinking about all of the possible people I knew in the world who might happen upon my words. Would they spurn me forever after reading my confession?
I texted a friend who has been a longtime supporter of my journey on the writing path.
“I just wrote a particularly damning post,” I said.
A response came, and I sighed with relief.
“I don’t think your post is damning,” came the words of assurance. “I think it’s freeing.”
In the end, I realized that I was still thankful to have put the truth out there. It is a small part of all the truths that make me who I am, and it is a real demon I wish to move beyond.
Part of this realization came after witnessing a talk from a fellow who attended Prescott College many years ago.
He spent the last 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days in silent meditation retreat on 1100 acres in the shadow of the Chiricahua Mountains of Southeast Arizona. During that time, his partner was in the next cabin over, but they only saw each other 4 times a year.
I was intrigued before I heard him talk, and I left in awe, admiration, and deep appreciation.
He was real and honest. His honesty helped me breathe a sigh of relief after my own recent confession. It was like his words gave me permission to share my own. If he could cause such relief for me, perhaps my own writing might have a similar impact on others.
During the presentation, he spoke about pressure that builds inside of us. If we don’t find ways to release it, it can cause us to do wild, crazy things when it gets to boiling point.
I have found that writing, particularly writing that reveals things I have been taught to hide, offers a healthy release of pressure and a return of lightness and freedom. Whiskey and red wine can have similar pressure-releasing results, but the return is more short-lived, and I do not always learn as much about my self and the world.
What methods do you use to release pressure?