Discovering


                                        

“Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either. Maybe you could never write them and that was why you put them off and delayed the starting. Well, he would never know, now.”

                                    –Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1936)

            Afraid to try; not good enough. There’s that fear of digging in deep, opening old wounds, leery of discovering what’s I’ve buried deep.  It is my lifetime work of denial, in all its many facets.

            What if there were really monsters under my bed as a kid, and I put them away, trying to ignore them, or burying them deep in my soul, so I wouldn’t have to confront them? I’m good at denying the existence of that question. 

            “Go away and leave me alone,” I say to myself. 

            In my writing work, there are topics and germs of ideas “out there” that should be explored, that remain on the “idea list”.  They are controversial, provocative, and daunting.  Some are political, most are sociological hot potatoes. Some of those are today’s monsters under the bed, the thoughts and fears I am now denying, at least not confronting. 

            I’m good at running away from confrontation, from the difficult stuff of life, the emotional chaos that literally begs for self-examination, self-reflection. It’s flight or fight, and denial.  Yet, when I dig into the tough stuff, scraping off the scabby outer coverings, and allowing the pus to seep out, so I can cleanse the psychological infections, a newly revealed truth emerges.  I begin to heal, and, more importantly, to understand.  

            All writing is a form of self-exploration, a teaching moment for the soul.  I work at trying not to realize that, which is part of my denial and my lifetime of procrastination in dealing with the tough subjects. 

            Hemingway’s character wasn’t ready to face his monsters and put pencil to paper to dig into those personal challenges.  He knew that, and knew he wasn’t ready to take it on, yet also knowing that he should take it on, because that is where the challenges are, and, ultimately, the reward of going deep and wrestling with the really tough stuff in life. 

            Writing challenges me, pushes me to go deeper inside of myself, to confront my night monsters, my fears, my doubts, and my unfinished thoughts.  There is work to be done when I write, so much more than moving the pencil across the paper, an act of growing myself, of discovery.

4/16/2021  Neal Lemery

Fearing Commitment


Fearing Commitment

 

“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love.  The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation.  To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” –Anne Morriss

 

I’m afraid of commitment, of taking that decisive step and telling myself I can do this.  With commitment comes responsibility, and the toughest of any responsibility is that I’m obligated to follow through, and what happens is on all me.  I own it.

 

Yet, as Anne Morriss points out, there is that freedom you gain.  Other tasks and activities can fall by the wayside, and I don’t have to do things that I’m really not invested in, and that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of life, the frivolous things, trivial, inconsequential.

 

If I am going to do something really well, with all my energy and creative talent, then I need to be completely committed, and engage my heart and my soul into the task at hand, my eye firmly focused on the goals I have set for myself.

 

And allow myself to be relaxed in that emotional space, to take it easy and let it flow.  That’s when I’m at my best.  So why not give myself permission to go to that place within me, where my creativity and spontaneity can be let loose, and thrive?

 

There’s that old fear, that I’m not good enough, not able enough, not competent. But, all that is on me, what I think, and what I believe about myself, my capabilities; my commitment.

 

I need to own it. And, when I own it, and pour my energy into it, I find myself in that state of being where my task and I become one, that what I am doing is really the essence of me, and my creative spirit.

 

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on my music and my art.  And, I’ve found again, and am relearning again, that when I am engaged in that work, I do best, and find the greatest satisfaction, when I am completely in the moment, completely engaged, and committed. Not only on the conscious level, but deeper, on a soulful level, subconscious, intensely internal.

 

I try not to listen to those old voices, the naysayers, the doom and gloomers. Instead, I need to embrace my commitment, and rejoice in that liberation.

 

–Neal Lemery, 11/4/2018

The Visit


 

Unwrapping

McDonald’s in the morning,

his first in a fourth of his life,

words tumbled out,

between the bites of old comfort.

His last five years in prison,

new place this week, more freedom,

nine months to go, until

college, a new life,

so many unknowns, new fears.

We walked inside the fence,

round and round,

more unwrapping, to the core

of where he wanted to go  —

who he wanted to be.

The Scrabble game brought laughs

and time just to be

himself,

unwrapped,

closer to the peace

he craves.

–Neal Lemery

5/5/2012