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Not That I Need to Tell You, But I Will

By: Madison Utley

 

 

The country at large seems to be taking the constant offensive lately or, at the very least, there’s a pervasive air of combative defensiveness; not that I in any way advocate engaging with a system so clearly fueled by fear and insecurity, but the friction has led me to feel a need to more clearly articulate to myself how I justify my opinions, actions, and life choices – my whole being, really.

While it may not have been born from the noblest of triggers, this internal exploration stirred up a great swell of gratitude for the way in which writing is a pursuit that, to me, virtually defends itself.

 

I say this for two primary reasons:

 

ONE – As a writer, all hobbies, passions, disasters, distractions – any form of living out life – becomes material. We are an amalgamation of all we’ve experienced, with each layer either directly informing or else infusing a richness into what we’re able to produce. Every day, every breathe, is field research: depending on how romantic you’re feeling, this is either the ultimate motivation or the ultimate rationalization.

The more deeply I invest in my craft, the more acutely my aim becomes to live a life so full it feels it transcends language – and then to wrangle it into words nonetheless. Experimentation and subsequent articulation has become my ongoing creative cycle which now seems to be fueling itself.

And, while I’m sure artists working with all mediums relate to embracing the many forms of daily inspiration available to those who seek it out, there’s something special about writing which brings me to…

TWO – As writers, we’re able to articulate our inner workings with exquisite precision. (Or, you know, at least well-constructed rambling). And fortunately, deftness with language only seems to sharpen with time, as we develop an easiness and trust with words only made possible through becoming old friends. This is incredibly freeing.

While the power to wield language in such a way as to silence the braying masses is at least partially contingent upon their willingness to be thoughtful listeners and relinquish their fighting spirit, the beauty is that being pushed to put into words what I do as a writer, why I’m compelled to pursue this path, and what I feel it brings to others (and more importantly, what it does for me… Am I allowed to say that?) has proven enormously valuable in developing my sense of intellectual self, and cementing the validity of what it is I’m most heavily investing in.

 

So, while there are infinitely more important things to do than worry about becoming more palatable to others or exerting energy defending what I know to be right and true for myself, I celebrate the self-assurance unexpectedly spurred by the constant prodding and questioning of a somewhat antagonistic world.

Fearful times

I don’t think I’ve ever shared something from my personal Facebook page here before, but this seems as good a time as any.

I am writing this post in case there is someone who needs to read it. Someone like me who is not seeing what they need to see on their social media channels. The message is simple: it is okay to be afraid. It is okay to be afraid of death, afraid of being alone, afraid of the future looking different than one imagined, afraid of our leaders, afraid of the planet itself which sometimes seems bent on our destruction.

Most of what I am seeing feels like we are skipping this step. It is not malicious and it may be what we need in the end: to connect in online social groups, to post our positive imagery, to credit the helping professions, to share humor and family and nature. I have appreciated these things, and I’m sure I’ll soon post my collage of Bodhi perfecting her Taiwanese dumplings.

But when we talk about mental health awareness, I think it begins with each one of us. If we present ourselves as not afraid, perhaps out of shame, we leave each other to wonder if we are the only one experiencing waves of overwhelm and despair. We then each become a little more alienated, and not just from each other — we become divorced from that part of ourselves, and that only increases the strain.

I will think a dozen times before posting this murmur from the darkness. But I hope I persevere for the person out there who is wondering, Is it me? Am I too afraid or afraid in the wrong way? And who can then feel a little bit less alone in perhaps a complementary way to the rest of what this good world has to offer.