Literature, performing arts, and visual arts are fascinating to me. Born a writer and reader, I try to continue to live my life that way. But, to take a human emotion, thought, or experience and to be able to translate that into a medium for the viewing and criticism of another human is an incredibly brave thing to do, not to mention difficult. After my Forgiveness post, a lot of people expressed that it had made them think about forgiveness in a new way. I feel, for the first time, that I have somehow made it to the point where I can write my experience to reach an audience outside of my own skin.
The written word has always fascinated and me made me feel painfully inadequate. A few months ago, I met an older gentleman in a spa who asked me if I had any major addiction, flawed indulgence, painful childhood, star-crossed romance. I said no, I’ve never really had significant issues in my life. Aside from being diagnosed with cancer at 24, everything has been reasonably rosy! I came from a solid family with three accomplished sisters, lived in a comfortable neighborhood, attended a private university complete with a summer abroad, got a job right out of college, moved to lower Manhattan nine months later. So, to answer his question, no.
He presented me with the idea that maybe that’s why I find myself inadequate as a writer. I think I don’t have a voice worth listening to. I don’t come from a place of hurt, but I don’t come from a place of extreme privilege. I live a very middle-of-the-road life.
So why listen? Because I am interested not just in self indulgence, but in creating a dialogue. Just about a year ago, The Man gave me a book of short stories, which I had neglected to read until recently. Maybe I had to wait until now to read it, to be in the correct mindset. The stories I’ve read have inspired many internal dialogues. Some hopeful and positive, others not so much. Elizabeth Kadetsky wrote Men More Than Mortal in 2007. It is the story of a bike messenger who finds herself not only out of a marriage that she had attempted to call off prior to its inception, and dreaming of belonging to another man, any man, but she has closed her bicycle chain around her waist with no way of unlocking it.
I’ve been wanting to get a bike for some time now, making this something for me for to relate to. Since splitting with The Man, there’s a new focus inward. I want to be in better shape. I work out my mind by reading and writing, but there’s a physical aspect, as well. I am bringing my mountain bike to the city. Sounds dangerous, and part of me is scared for my life, but it’s going to be awesome! I am that person who is staying grounded by my heavy pen, my yoga mat, and my bike. My mother is worried because it’s an expensive bike that could be lifted at the drop of a hat.
Men More Than Mortal‘s The lead character proclaims, “I am a normal, healthy, happy human being who has a world opening up in front of her, a place of possibility, and limitless option. I just happen to have a chain permanently affixed to my middle.”
We all spend so much time not even acknowledging the first truth that we are all free with a limitless world sprawled before us. We are given so many opportunities to be happy, feel loved, feel satisfaction, but few ever truly feel anything. There is always a chain of some sort hanging from us– responsibilities, careers, family, friends, lovers, Saturday afternoon football leagues. I am no different. I am aware of the splendor that lies before me, while looking to handle this chain around my middle. The biggest one that I bear at this point is a combination chain of lost love and diminished of creative appetite. I could start believing that I’m a bike and wait for someone to steal me away from my burden, as all bikes do eventually get lifted if not properly supervised, or I can wait to conjure up a solution that will allow me to remove the chain on my own.
It’s interesting, though, to think about what chain is affixed to your middle.