As a writer, part of how I now define myself is by the words that pour out of me onto paper, regularly.
When they go missing, it feels as though a limb has been temporarily amputated, or I’ve suddenly been restricted from accessing a part of my brain that I used to employ regularly.
For the last few weeks, this has been the place in which I’m dwelling, and it’s not a comfortable one. I know other writers can relate, and that provides some relief—but for the most part it is an anxious, lost, isolated and bewildered feeling.
Surely there are far worse things to lose than words (health, memory, a multitude of things come to mind) but those words have become an integral part of my being, my survival. They have been a key part of my sobriety for the last 16 months.
A few long, anxious nights brought me to a few conclusions on combatting this loss, this bereft expressionlessness.
How can I still help others and connect when my skill appears to be missing?
The answer? By listening, asking and communicating in every way possible. By participating as fully as I can in every moment of my life. By letting go of the attachment my ego has to the words on paper, and living every moment without a thought as to whether this is something to be written about. By making the most of my word-ache in devoting extra time to pouring over books—all the books piled up just waiting for me to dip into and savor.
And so I’ve vowed, for the time being, to cherish every wordless moment, to capture the beauty or sadness of a day in my heart or on my camera, and to make every attempt to simply exist where I am at right now in this glorious summer. A day out with my son, a hike with my partner, a trip to the beach with my family, a serene yoga class—perhaps I’ll learn, just a little bit better, how to exist in those moments.
I was reminded as I wrote this of a Rilke quote that seems to sum up where I am at. And that perhaps, is the beauty of this—while I am seemingly stuck without my usual means of expressing myself, others have all so well voiced what needs to be said, long before me—and will continue to do so long after me.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Author: Keeley Milne
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photos: Author’s own