Writer's Block

"The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have." 
                                                                                                                            Soren Kierkegaard

I've never had writer's block before.
(p.s. you can buy this block on Etsy!)
Writing has always been my go-to method of reflection, from the very first journal I received at five years old. Though most of what that journal said was "tooday iz a gud day," surrounded by stick figure drawings and crooked tracings of my hand. But even as I've grown up and gone through some challenging experiences, I've never had much trouble finding the words to describe those times, nor had trouble sharing my reflections on this blog, where anyone and their mother could read it. It never bothered me, because that's how I am. What you see is what you get. I'm not looking to hide anything, and think that genuine stories make for the most interesting reading material.

But for the earthquake, it's been different. It seems ironic- aren't I writing about it right now, how could I have writer's block? What you don't know is that since December I've started at least five different drafts of this blog post, and have finished none. The jury's still out on this one...

I lost many things because of that earthquake. But the one I didn't realize till I returned to the States was that I had lost my privacy. Because I, and some others, posted about the earthquake on Facebook in an effort to let people know I was safe, I haven't been able to escape my past. I've been forced to remember and repeat the story over and over again. For the past four months I've had people I haven't seen in years, or people I've met only a few times (sometimes for the first time) ask me about the earthquake. Often they ask/state, "That must have been very terrifying." Yes it was. What kind of response do you expect from that question? Or the less understanding ones say, "What an adventure!" No- that's simply an inappropriate response. You don't say to someone whose house burned down "what an adventure!" You can only say that when there's a happy ending to validate their suffering.

The problem is, when I begin to share something real, something concrete about my experience, it takes the conversation down to a level of depth that few relationships get to, and few people are willing to go. Most relationships, especially acquaintances, hover around superficial statements about the weather and other non-controversial issues. The next level of friendships relate on similar preferences and personal interests, such as activities and sports. The level below is the people you share your emotions, worldview and ideals with, and express life-goals and dreams. The deepest level is your most intimate relationships, generally only a handful of people, where you feel free to be vulnerable and honest with one another and are committed to each other's betterment.

Alfred Hitchcock once said about the audience of horror/thriller films: "Give them pleasure- the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare." My experience was the opposite: I woke up to a nightmare.

To speak about our fears, about a moment that terrifies us, is at a depth that most people have not earned the right to. We may not even admit those fears to ourselves. And for me, it's not just the raw horror of the memory, but also the grief that followed in its wake.

So do not be offended if I never talk about the earthquake with you. Only a few people have earned that right.


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