It is early October. I am sitting still in a newly-fallen pile of autumn leaves, admiring how the loveliest of crimson shades are cascading a New England landscape I find myself falling more and more in love with each morning. The chill in the air beckons my notebook to open, almost as if there is someone or something heartfully whispering the kindest of invitations in my ear: “Please… write. Write it all down.”
Today, writing is a patient breath to me — it is something I run to whenever I desire an escape from a world I often find blurry and resounding, disquieting and apprehending. It is my hope. Now it is my prayer. And yet, it hasn’t always been like this.
A long time ago, I feared putting my heart on paper. I felt almost immensely afraid of the permanence of my words. In the first years of keeping a consistent writing practice and filling pages with musings lined on leftover coffee shop cloths, I at times found myself feeling so overwhelmed that my thoughts existed far outside of the safety of my mind. And so I often resulted to tearing pages to pieces and throwing them into the wind to never be seen again, but not before littering them with unresolved grief and unexplained discomfort.
In a way, I believe I was doing the same with my own heart for years and years. I wished to erase all I had been through, for no one to ever come to know, and treat it all like it was nonexistent or as unreal as I oftentimes imagined it to be.
Since I didn’t want these experiences to be true, I assume I didn’t want my words to, either. At the time, this was a choice. But once the overwhelm soon became far too heavy to carry on my own, writing became an insistence. I almost felt as if I couldn’t get out of bed, place one foot in front of the other, and face a new sunrise unless I first let all of the heartache pour out of me like tears often would on some of the most difficult of early mornings and late evenings. Writing was no longer a choice. It became essential to see another new day.
In the days I shuffle words around in my mind so often I create poems by memory while driving through Northeastern hills and rehearse them like fitting lyrics into songs, I reflect on my path to writing expression as one I am evermore grateful to hold as my own. And I am thankful not because it is easy, but because it is ambitious — because it brings me comfort to know that when I release the tension I feel in tiny fragmented letters, I may be better able to both grasp all that hurts as well as guide my own heart to find the grace I have always desired to sway me any which way.
I say with honest certainty that writing has given me more than I have ever naturally been able to give to myself. It has befriended and encouraged me to believe when I believed in very little. It has trusted me when I had very little trust in myself. And it has gifted me courage in the form of a kind hand to hold when I felt the smallest in the loneliest of moments.
Writing, truly, is a dream I never expected. And yet, it is a dream I trust I was destined to hold. Wrapped as a delicate, unfamiliar gift, it gently found a home in my lost hands, opening itself up to me when I turned myself away from the world.
Etching simple words granted me enough comfort to distance myself from all that felt too near. I was able to assume the identity of someone I felt was not me. In a way, I felt more comfortable getting to know her as someone else, all so I could try and understand what she experienced to grow more and more compassionate towards her fragility.
And now, there is nothing I find more gracious than to begin each sunrise and end each sunset sitting at my wood-stained desk, the one that faces East towards a woodland that transforms breath by breath each new season, and listening to all the leaves whisper in my ear. I imagine I’m back up North, where autumn speaks to me as clearly as it ever has, and I write it all down. I write everything they say to me, and thank them for reminding me that grace still exists even when I feel it the least.
When the only bruise that did not fade was the one on my heart, I remember thinking, “I will never survive this.” But I did. Here I am. Writing and all of its healing magic has shown me how I continue to breathe in the wind’s whimsical poems and live trusting that for the rest of my days, there will always be more grace to find in stories by hearts that I am meant to hear and hold dear.