Thursday, February 24th 2011

There’s a classic writing exercise which entails writing something – anything – quickly, and then immediately destroying it. You can’t erase anything, or mark anything out. This is to be repeated daily for several weeks.

For those who don’t think they can write anything of value, it’s freeing. No one will ever see it. There is no pressure of any kind.  Eventually what happens is you stop wanting to destroy your words, and recognize their worth. It’s also helpful for getting really creative – because you can be far more “out there” than you’ve ever been and again, no pressure. No audience. It will never be discovered in a drawer years from now.  It will be gone forever, in five minutes.

Maybe you aren’t the sort of person who has to constantly whisper permission to yourself to think, say, do, BE whatever it is you’re unsure of. (And how nice that must be for you! Teach me!) For me… that’s a constant mental dynamic. Sometimes it’s big stuff (to me), but mostly it’s not.

Example: This morning I caught sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror and gasped and stared.

Y’all. That is NEVER good.

I looked like my late Aunt Frances. I had my hair up in one of those towel/turban thingies that are supposed to help dry your hair faster. And, sidenote, please do not fall for that. It’s a TOWEL. An unflattering, headwrappy towel thing that takes no more drying time off your usual routine than a normal towel. So there I am, and I remember my Aunt Frances wore silky turban things sometimes at night before bed for reasons I never understood. She was wonderful. Smart, fun, always smiling and laughing, joking, and the woman really knew how to love, and she loved my sister and I dearly. We loved her dearly in return.  She died when we were pretty young.

I’d completely forgotten about the turban things she wore. Until today. And I remember that as a little girl I always wanted to know WHY she wore them, since they were about the butt-ugliest accessory ever, and even then I knew Aunt Frances was pretty stylish. I was too shy to ask.  So I stared myself down, in all my unfortunate turbanned glory, and decided it was absolutely fine to wear something so hideous and to even do so in an odd tribute to my dear late Aunt Frances.  It’s a look that will scare or mystify another generation of children in this family, and that too, is all right. This generation will not be too shy to loudly condemn the thing, though, and for that I’m grateful.  (but they sometimes wear underwear on their heads, so they really don’t have much room for complaint.)

These are tiny, completely inconsequential matters that require conscious permission.

Yesterday I wrote, with the full knowledge that afterwards I would immediately destroy the pages. I needed the permission to write it all out but without the possibility of an audience.  I pulled out all the thoughts I normally try not to entertain and entertained. The deepest, darkest thoughts that are constantly being shoved down and pushed away were invited to the party.

Some of them were surprisingly not that bad, once they finally saw the light of day. Interesting how that can work. After fully defining and articulating some of the things I’d been so hard at work denying… they seemed rather insignificant and hardly worth all that expended effort.

I was relieved of so much pressure I’d needlessly put on myself to be/think/act/talk a certain way. And those written words were the unspoken proof that I was failing at something I should never have undertaken in the first place.

I prayed over some of it, laughed over some of it, and cried over a lot of it. And then I ripped it up and threw it away in the trashcan next to the bed.

And then I got it out of the trashcan next to the bed, put it in a plastic bag, and took it to a dumpster across town like it was a dead body.

But still.

In a good way.


6 Comments on “Yesterday…”

February 24th, 2011
12:10 pm

How funny! I totally looked at myself in the mirror today with my wet hair in a turban towel and thought to myself, “what is the point of this, my hair doesn’t dry any faster, and yet I do it every single morning.” I will continue to do it every morning, because its familiar, and habitual.

February 24th, 2011
3:03 pm

Reading your blog makes me look like a crazy person. Everyone walking through the room keeps saying “What??”, “What!?!” because I’m busy laughing hysterically for what seems like no reason to them.
That is too funny, Kelsey. The part about driving it across town to the dumpster like a dead body! I really don’t laugh easily. I’m one of those that keeps a stoic face while watching comedians perform, so that’s impressive.
That’s an interesting writing practice. I like it. I might try it, but I think I’d enjoy it more if I had an active fireplace.
Michele recently posted..Chickens!

February 24th, 2011
6:10 pm

LOL great technique for removing writer’s block. Have fun with it!
Jan recently posted..Sew Whats New

February 25th, 2011
11:07 am

You fell for the “thirsty towel” marketing too?! Awesome. Ethan’s taking sick day, so I have one on my head right now. I will think of you AND my aunt frances now when catching glimpse of this reflection!

You’re so cute – and I LOVE the fireplace idea. Much more drama.

I will NOT ask you why you havne’t blogged in forever since you don’t like to be asked that. That was an announcement, not a question, so it doesn’t count. (My sister says I can’t do “subtle.” She’s right, huh?)

February 26th, 2011
12:05 pm

Kelsey, I haven’t blogged because I can’t think of anything to say. since my kids and grandkids have outgrown the cutie pie stage, I have no source of humorous anecdotes, and I don’t think anyone wants to read any more about my attempts to recover from heart failure. If I coud think of anything else to write about, I would. I’ll let you know if inspiration strikes. :)
Jan recently posted..Sew Whats New

February 26th, 2011
10:37 pm

I love that you’re writing things out to give yourself permission to think them and then destroying them. Whatever works. You go, girl.

Also, driving it across town to dispose of it? We don’t even treat spider carcasses like that. (Although for those crazy people who dispose of spiders by taking them outside – I *always* insist that they spin them around a bit first and dispose of them far, far away, after turning a few corners. I don’t want the spiders finding their way back.) You’re hilarious.

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