The sea wants to kiss the golden shore//
The sunlight warms your skin//
All the beauty that’s been lost before//
Wants to find us again.*
I woke before my alarm, song lyrics in my head. I heated up a mug of hot water, squeezed a slice of lemon into it, and put my headphones in. From the weathered armchair in the corner of my living room, I watched the sun rise over New York. I watched the clouds turn pink, their color deepening before dispersing, bathing the buildings in gentle light before bidding them goodbye. I watched from my eighth-floor window as a crammed subway train made its way downtown, filled with people going to jobs I didn’t have, leading lives I didn’t live. I watched the day begin, and then, I wrote.
I’m not sure when the shift began. I think it was twelve days earlier, on the way to Montauk, when from outside the window of my eastbound train, from over a bank of snow, I first glimpsed the Atlantic Ocean. And later, on a Long Island beach, when I climbed over more snow to get to sand and stood, watching the waves crash, watching the water recede and return, breathing in cold salt air, that for the first time in a long time, I felt like myself again. There was no grand epiphany, just a quiet voice whispering, “Remember?” And I did. And then I went back inside, to work.
I came to New York to write. And though I’ve been writing every day, I haven’t enjoyed it. The process has been torturous, and slow, and has often felt – to me – without purpose. But as a friend of mine once said, “Sometimes we make the story so big, we can’t tell it.”
When I tell you that writing saved my life, I’m not exaggerating. A few years ago, when I was in the worst part of my depression, when the world felt like it was collapsing around me, writing was the only thing that gave me any relief. I’ve always harbored a secret worry (not so secret any more, I guess) that I feel more than most people. That I feel more than what is normal. So, when real tragedy struck, the emotions were so big they threatened to drown me. That was when I first started experiencing panic attacks. When I couldn’t swallow food without feeling like I was choking. When I struggled to get out of bed.
I should have asked for help. But I didn’t. I wrote. And as I wrote, I learned something. I learned that if I could find a way to articulate my emotions so that other people could feel them too, if I could turn them into real, tangible things in the form of essays or blog posts, if I could get them out of my body and into the world, then they wouldn’t swallow me. Call it sharing my pain in order to survive. I don’t know if it worked, but it sure felt like it did. And it made me feel a hell of a lot less alone.
I don’t write to survive any more, but sometimes I forget that. Sometimes, I’ll be working on an essay or a section of dialogue or a scene in a play, and something will come out that’s intense or unexpected and knock me sideways and I’ll have to stop for a while. And I’m reminded that the thing that brings me the greatest joy can still, occasionally, be dangerous.
When I went out to Montauk, the weather had already begun to turn. By the time I got back to the city, the snow had melted, the streets had cleared, and it was – dare I say – pleasant. I took the subway downtown to look at a theater space, and using Google maps as my navigator, I experienced a feeling that can only be described as relief. There was no headache, no bitter cold. Being outside, walking around, was fun. Were people on the streets actually smiling? In New York?
I guess that’s the thing about winter. The storms can be brutal. But on the other side of them? Beauty. And every so often: moments of pure, unfiltered joy.
Until next time, friends.
*Lyrics from the song “Ordinary Love,” by U2
Though I won’t say writing saved my life, it certainly has helped this depressed man cope with life better. Thanks for sharing your story.
‘Sarah, when my kindred friend passed on, I knew I had to make a choice in which to embrace her as memories within my heard. To embrace the sorrow, meant I would become the sorrow’, and so I ‘denied the spirit of sorrow and weeping. I refused to think of her in any sadness. And the feeling of love was so immense.
‘Sarah’ the sun is warm, feel it upon your face, and the cold winter sky is vivid blue, both of which ice crystals glisten in the sunlight. It is of which we so choose to embrace. Each morning live and embrace life.
‘Two double disk sets: Jackson Browne ‘Solo Acoustic Discs 1’ and 2’. And ‘The Very Best of Jackson Browne ‘Discs 1’ and 2’. Be who you were born to be Sarah… You were not born to be Sorrow. Soon I will lose my hearing, but for now I will listen and feel the music of Jackson. For a Dancer’ I shall miss how my eyes do well when I hear the sweet serenade sounds of Violins.
Sarah you have immense talent, you have a immense heart’, and PC or ink of quill of which are tools to write. Of what Sarah shall you embrace? Live well’ for the morning sunshine will have it no other way.
Even in your lone long sorrow, your sole inspires my own sole to write.
As always your posts resonate with me, and this definitely did. Writing has always been the way I can express myself, and let my emotions out as well. When I cannot communicate, I can with written words and in that process I have found kindred spirits and connections with people I didn’t even know I had.
It hasn’t always been easy, and the words haven’t always wanted to come, but I think that is when the break throughs happen. When they mean the most. Huge hugs to you. And thank you as always for sharing your beautiful writing ❤
I totally get where you are coming from, when my times were bad, writing about them was so therapeutic, and you have a lovely way with words! all the best to you for this wonderful new year x