I didn’t write yesterday; I may not write anything else today. I have days where I just drop my face onto my keyboard and think, “Ugggghhhh, I can’t write. I suck.”
This usually happens after one of three things happen:
- Someone tells me how much they liked my writing. I always feel this manic tick go off inside me that tells me I have to top, then, whatever I wrote before, so as to actually be deserving of praise. Right now. This instant. I need to pump out something absolutely epic, that will change the life of the reader with my gritty insight. Something poignant, yet witty. Then my eye starts twitching. I told you from the start— I crave approval, but when I actually get it, it does weird things to me.
- I start reading other people’s blogs; blogs written by people I very much admire. And when I finish, I slump my shoulders, take a long drag from my coffee, think, “Uggghhh, why didn’t I write that? I’ll never be able to say that kind of stuff without sounding like an idiot. Well, who cares? It’s not like anyone’s actually reading your blog.” Face:Keyboard.
- I have an idea for a post, but haven’t worked it out to the point where I can articulate it and am consequently consumed by a need to get my thoughts on paper. But since the thought is half-formed, it comes out looking like: “sahsadfdhgfdhgf-soap-nachos-conclave-synergy-Armando Guebuza-ashdkgkhghg.”
Yesterday, all three happened, which sent me into a spiral of artistic and melodramatic self-loathing.
I’ve learned that if I’m in a bad mood, coffee is actually not a good idea for me. This is counter-intuitive, since I usually think: Coffee + Happy = Energy = More Happy. But apparently, Coffee + Bad mood = Energy = Restless Crankiness.
So, having had multiple cups of coffee by the time I got home last night, I really was not keen on a quiet evening at home with my book, alone with myself and my dumb writing. I tried, I really did, to just sit with my book and my soup. But in the end, after a phone call from my sister, I went to Panera in search of just some basic human contact, had another cup of coffee (and a bagel) and tried to read again. No luck. With the dangerous combination of intellectual frustration, caffeine-induced restlessness and your average bout of moodiness, all I wanted was a good, real life conversation.
I’m not really a lonely person. I spend a lot of time by myself, and I’ve never been the type who minded that so much. In fact, if I have just too much time with too many people, I start to want to kill them and so I go catch a movie by myself and I feel better. Most people tell me that going to the movies by yourself is lame and asocial, but I’d like to remind them that it at one time may have been the only thing keeping them from an untimely death. Rachel, I’m talking to you.
But this time, I was cursing the year I was born as two years too early to be able to go to a dark bar and spill my troubles to a chatty bartender like a Freudian psychologist patient with daddy issues. I drove around for about 20 minutes in a residential area, not totally sure where I was or where I was going, until I popped out, unexpectedly, onto the route I take to get to the church.
Hey, I can take a hint.
I sat in Church for a little while, not really saying much, or feeling like I was hearing much on God’s part. This is usually okay with me. When I worked at the church, if I just needed to get away from the soul-crushing florescent-ness of the church’s kitchen, I’d go up to the chapel, just to sit. Sometimes I’d have deep thoughts, and sometimes I’d just think about whether or not the spaghetti sauce could use more basil. I used to think of it like sitting in church and not saying much was like being able to sit in comfortable silence with a friend.
After a while, my inability to pray and the ensuing silence between God and I started to feel like “awkward silence,” and I wondered if it was my fault because I didn’t come to church often enough anymore. Annoyed that I had come all that way to the church and not felt any more at peace, I heard the piano playing downstairs. Well, I sighed exasperated, that was it. Any little bit of prayerfulness I had was waning fast, as my mind kept wondering who was playing the piano, what they were playing, how nice it sounded, but how goshdarn distracting it was, etc., etc. So I walked out of church, leaving my purse and missal behind, and went downstairs.
It turns out that of all the people who could have been on the otherwise-deserted property, there was no more perfect person to have picked that moment to distract me from my attempt at meditation. Once thick as thieves, though granted, fraught with complicated adolescent hormones. He was my best friend until unique circumstances eventually ended our former closeness and by now, we hadn’t talked for more than a few minutes in a long time. Things change, and people grow up, lives diverge into different paths. But if you’re lucky, there’s still a solidness there in a friendship, and a bond still intact, no matter how long its been stagnant, even after its been deluged in a lot of pain, misunderstanding or separation. The bond’s changed, but it’s there, simplified and laid bare, and better for that.
So we caught up for a solid half hour– more than we’ve talked in seven months, and left with promises to pray for each other, and no matter how long it is before we catch up with each other again, an almost tacit agreement that we would still be friends. “I’ll be there… I mean… you know what I mean.” “Yeah. Me, too.”
It’s funny how God works. And not to sound cheesy, but it occurred to me what a generous gesture it was. He gave me, who doesn’t come make visits often enough as it is, an answer to a prayer against loneliness in human form, when His company should be all I need. He wants me to come to Him, but when I do, lets me leave.
[UPDATE: I was trying to think of a better way of explaining what I meant by this. It’s like a Father seeing His child, sad and lonely, and instead of making it another unhappy lesson in coping, and blind trust, sent me off with a piece of candy, knowing there will be plenty of other times for me to learn the hard way. In other words, He gave me a good break.]
I went back upstairs to get my things from the chapel, and as I walked out, I mouthed a thank you.