In My Reality, I Make a Mess


A fairly accurate representation of writing + life.

In my dream life, I use one color at a time.

I'm focused and clear. I'm writing about X or focused in my life on Y and Z. My words, my actions -- they are beautiful, clean, purposeful. Calm colors, or bold ones.

In my reality, I make a mess.

The colors get all blended up and some days I look at the proverbial palette with frustration -- the blobs of color have all bled and blurred and it's an indistinguishable muddy, nameless color.

Monday at 5:00pm. I burst into the kitchen with my litany of stressors and complaints and an air of overwhelm, like Pigpen from Peanuts with his cloud of dust. My wife is at the sink washing the pre-dinner dishes. She sees my face -- or maybe she doesn't even have to -- and asks if I'm ok. I take this as an invitation to launch into all the things on my mind.

What's the difference between sharing and simply leaking?

The memoir I keep talking about writing? Totally unclear to me. I have not put in the time, I tell myself, to get clear on what it's about. Not being clear. This is one of my hardest places. Whether it's in my writing or my work or my relationships, being unclear in my focus and communication feels shitty and is something I tend to be hard on myself about.

Energy is contagious. Where you stop and I start. The spaces between the colors when they're all smashed up close together like that.

Creating space. Is it breathe? Awareness? Well, awareness certainly can't hurt. Without it, well, we'd all be ping-ponging around making an even bigger mess.

But I'm leaving a part out. I'm leaving out the beauty part. The unexpected combinations and collaborations that happen when I'm open to experimenting. Mani and I often marvel at our union; our backgrounds couldn't be more different in many ways. The other day, I asked her why she thinks it works. "Because we are both open to growing," she said, or something along those lines. I recognize the truth of this immediately.

Yesterday over on Patreon, I mentioned that I don't know if the theoretical memoir is about my Jewish journey or coming out or life after the idea and ideal of life. Real life (and real writing), in other words, the kind that unfolds and surprises us and goes places we never could have predicted or controlled, and how we meet it -- how I've met it. There's an internal pressure to pick a color palette and stick with it. An inner admonishing voice: Whatever you do, do not make a mess.

News flash: There is no way to do this neatly. Yes, maybe in the "someday" stage, neatness will come. More likely, not. A book is not a life.

Life is not a linear, crafted thing. Nor is the creative process.

It's wild and unbidden, chaotic and calm, rising and falling. It's nature itself, at times ferocious and also unbelievably gentle. Trusting it is the only path I know.