I didn’t write for some months but instead sat empty and dreamless.
I had something to figure out for myself in order to truly own it, to truly change, similar to my clients. When I’d been so driven to perform, accomplish, and be recognized, I didn’t see clearly. But when I stopped and was still, when I let go, insight rose from my subconscious. My hopelessness gave way to an objectivity that helped me gain an understanding of why I wrote at all. See, when I’d lost the thing that I felt called to do, when I acted as if it didn’t make a difference, my life felt meaningless. I was nobody, just as I’d always feared. I’d live an anonymous life and one day, pass away.
But then I looked around at the other seven billion people who currently share the planet. I realized that we’re almost all nobody. I shouldn’t write to please others or to be somebody other than who I was authentically. What did it matter? My goal never should’ve been to write like Mark Twain or Ken Kesey; I should write as me, tell my truth, what I saw through my own toilet-paper tube; and perhaps it’d resonate with some people, but I should not expect it to resonate with everyone or even anyone. It’s shallow and even paralyzing to try to please everyone. That’s what chameleons do. The beats and hippies were just being themselves; it was their authenticity that I admired. I should set my ego aside and not worry about the critics or prestige or posterity; we are all criticized, and we are all destined for obscurity. A little boy’s initials scratched into hot tar will eventually be paved over. Even Mark Twain will be forgotten, perhaps in a thousand years, for sure in a million. I should write for pure self-expression, for love of my level 1, love of others at each level, love of connection to others, and love of the wondrous spark of life we’ve been given for a brief time. Other reasons, such as for respect, attention, or money, are too ego-driven, inauthentic, and chameleonic. They are a fool’s errand. Suppose I wrote without the sheen of fiction between my audience and me? Suppose I wrote as me instead of as a chameleon, the me I am today? Suppose I wrote the way I did psychotherapy: being present and authentic and not putting my issues onto anybody else? When I’m at work, I don’t try to be Sigmund Freud or Abraham Maslow; I’m just me doing my best job as a psychologist. And it works! Would my writing become more authentic, more intimate, and thus resonate better with whoever chose to pay attention if I was just me? What I mean is, suppose I wrote a memoir?
And that’s when this colicky pissant finally rediscovered his voice.