If I disjoint my vision, bid it stop searching for a glimmer in the blackness or a curvature on which to land, I’ll see. If I can stop my panicked ears from grasping out for some sound, any tumult, no matter how small, I’ll hear. If I take away food, if I allow my mouth to cleave inward with thirst, I will taste. If I spend enough time alone, in a self-prescribed and dutifully executed solitude, I’ll know.
Lenten denial. It’s something that so many of us participate in. We deprive ourselves of what we enjoy in order to cleanse and ready ourselves. Herein lies a personal paradox the goes largely undiscovered, untaught: deprivation is not a punishment, nor should it be a duty fulfilled at the bidding of an institution. Instead, it should be a regular joy afforded ourselves; an exercise in opening the mind and the body to all that we otherwise could not hear, or see, or feel, or taste…or be.
I’ve noticed a lot of media regarding writer’s block. Surely we have all experienced those days in which the words aren’t fluid in quality; when they’re more like the stodgy hammering of a harsh and pelting rain. Sometimes, the next move isn’t evident; all the wrong maneuvers ask us to dance and we might not recognize a lack of chemistry until the song’s bridge. I do believe in writer’s block, but not in the traditional sense. I think we’ve submitted to a one-way sensory, decades-long rush hour. We’re not “blocked” because nothing will come out. We’re “blocked” because too much is trying to get in.
When I ponder the complexity of the human brain and all it contains (both intrinsically in its reptilian nature and uniquely in its human nature), I feel that the mere suggestion of it being empty is somehow irreverent. Likewise, the uncharted breadth and depth of it challenge the notion that at any time, it can be full.
One hour of silence, darkness, hunger, and the type of non-thinking in which you can feel the surge of your anti-senses pressing against your skull can fuel days of writing. Never fear that your sensual ingestions from the bustling world, or your carefully implemented research, will be forgotten. They will meld masterfully to create waking dream sequences, to change your perceptions…but only if you shut down for long enough to allow inward turbulence to calm and organize itself into a focused, orderly, and outward flow. Your mouth will be paralyzed to the expulsion of words. Your teeth will numb, then fizz with anticipation. Your brain will cease its filling and allow its intangible self — the mind — to speak.