I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
It was raining when I left New York, and the lyrics to that song were running through my head on an endless loop. They announced Leonard Cohen’s death the day I arrived in the city, two days after the results of a bitterly contested presidential election ripped the country apart at the seams (or rather, exposed the chasm that already existed), and one day before the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, Veteran’s Day, which also happened to be the one-year anniversary of the day I finally turned a corner on crippling grief, and decided to fight for my life.
I have been living with unanswered questions for a while now, and there hardly seemed a better place to escape from them than in gritty, relentless New York. Here, I could move faster than my racing brain, wind through subway tunnels and unfamiliar streets, dissolve into throngs of people in cafes and in crowds. I could lose myself in order to find myself. But a few days later, in the back of a JFK-bound taxicab, I knew that what I’d really found was a truth I could no longer run from: the journey I began a year ago, when my grandfather’s hospice ended and “Sarah 2.0” began, is not over.
I’ve made a good start. I’ve taken risks, both personally and professionally. I’ve traveled. I’ve volunteered. I’ve said no to things that weren’t right for me, and yes to things that were, and in doing so, I learned plenty about myself that I needed to know.
But I haven’t kept all of my promises. Not to myself, and not to those people for whom all I have left is a memory. I have been lazy. I have been afraid. I have wasted too much time on too many things that don’t matter.
One of the biggest, scariest things I did in the past year was to go see a psychic Medium and ask for her help in healing from the death of my mother. Whether you believe in Mediums or not, it was quite a thing for me – someone who never, ever, asks for help – to admit that this loss had carved such a hole in me that I couldn’t move forward with my life without a helping hand to guide me through it. And whether you believe that I communicated with my mother or not, what I do know is that whatever happened in that living room, on that sunny afternoon last July, helped me.
One of the things that came up during my session with Medium Fleur had nothing to do with spirits, or the afterlife. It had to do with me. Fleur told me that I’m meant to be a writer, and that I should be writing more. “You’re very talented,” she said, “but you’re lacking in self-confidence. It has to do with believing that you deserve it. Once you believe that you deserve it, everything is going to open up for you.”
OK. This is the part where I get really honest, and really vulnerable. I have never, ever, believed that I deserve it. Not really. I am driven, and ambitious, and I have always, always, worked hard, but deep down, I don’t think I’ve ever truly believed that I deserve to be happy, or successful, or to get all of the things that I want.
Last summer, when my one-act play War Stories opened to rave reviews at Hollywood Fringe Festival, I not only worried that something bad would happen, I expected it. I mean it. The reviews were so good that I was sure that, to even the karmic scale, I was going to get into a horrific car accident, or choke on a chicken bone, or that a drone was going to descend out of the sky, and take me out.
And now that the first version of that play was well-received, that feeling is even worse. Because now there are people looking forward to the next incarnation, people who are coming from out of town to see it, people who are expecting it to be good. So of course, even though the show opens in two and a half months, I haven’t finished writing it yet.
Sometimes I wonder if choosing to be a writer, and choosing to write this play in particular, makes me a masochist. I’m serious. It is scary as hell to sit down with yourself, alone, and try to figure out how to say things that are true, things that matter, things that make people feel something. And to write a play about love? The most personal, vulnerable, universal emotion of all? It’s no wonder I’m procrastinating.
But. I am only two weeks out from my next birthday, and only six weeks out from the end of 2016. And I’ll tell you something else that’s true: I am tired of not keeping my promises. I am tired of running. And I am more than a little tired of feeling like I don’t deserve it.
And so. I’m going all in. Because I have to. Because the only remedy is to do the work. Because the only thing that soothes the ache within me is to channel it into something creative, and to make that creation as compelling and as evocative and as heartfelt as I can.
I might fail. I might fall flat on my face. But there’s no more running from this. Because the only way out is on the jagged, treacherous path that runs directly through.
And who knows? Maybe somewhere along that path, I might even discover that I do deserve it, after all.
Until next time, friends.
You HAVE the talent. You DO deserve it. And you INSPIRE me with every piece you write.
Thank you my sweet friend. I’m grateful for you!
This was absolutely beautiful! Thank you ❤
I admire you friend! Rich
Thank you Rich! ❤️
I struggle with those feelings too. When there’s so many suffering, why shoul things work out so easily (kinda) for me? I try to tell myself the world needs artists and to do Your Thing well is the best you can do in the short time we’re here. I hope it’s true! Good luck, keep doing!
Thank you Claire. The world DOES need artists, and that includes you!
First off, I wanna say I absolutely love your quote about “losing yourself in order to find yourself”. I definitely feel like that is something I tend to do. I also want to say that I agree with everyone here, you are very talented from what I have seen. You are the one and only blogger who as soon as I get an email that you have posted, I stop what I am doing and I read it. And then I read it again that day. Your writing has been very inspirational to me in starting a blog that I didn’t think I should or could continue doing. I also relate to your grief and I think that is comforting too, that you write to heal the void like I do as well. Definitely keep the writing coming, there are plenty of us out here that are motivated by what you do! Good luck!
Oh my goodness! Thank you for these very kind words. You have no idea how much they mean to me. Thank you for reading!
I feel you. I feel like every joy must be paid for with an equal amount of pain. And the while the words “you deserve it” parse as syntactically correct English in my mind, I have no idea what they mean to me.
So what do we do, Jim? I guess my only answer is to keep pushing through those feelings, to keep working, all the while remaining aware that those feelings exist and that they probably shouldn’t. Because why not you? Why not me? Why not us? Wishing you well.
So brave in your writing. I can feel your struggles, being such an achiever you WILL be ok. It’s IN you to do it. You have that spark. I can feel it:)
Thank you! Your words of encouragement are deeply felt and much appreciated.