Creativity comes in ebbs and swells. I don’t know how I got to this place, but nothing feels familiar. This coffee shop is hot. Next to me, my boyfriend’s dog whimpers. He sees a friend outside, stopping to smell a tree. Like me, he longs to be somewhere else.
I’ve always been a writer, ever since I could remember. It always felt natural, felt easy, felt right. Now, it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I don’t know how—don’t know how, in the sense of putting everything else aside and being in the moment with the words. That used to be the easiest thing for me. Now I’m always looking at the to-do list, feeling behind before I start.
How do I get re-grounded?
My inbox blinks back at me, lines and lines of unread text. In the background of this coffee shop, a machine whirs. The sound would be comforting but I can’t help but feel the pressure of the line forming at the front counter, the woman in the back on the couch tapping her foot, the sun streaming through the shaded window.
I should be out there. I should be at the gym. I should be doing something else, something more. I should be anywhere but here.
The anxiousness creeps up in my mind again in a voice that’s barely recognizable from my own. I used to be able to slow down, to speed up, to find a place for words—whenever, however they came. Now I’m staring at a computer screen, feeling like two hours doesn’t come close to enough, so maybe I shouldn’t write at all.
When did I become so afraid of the sound of my own voice?
I twitch, shift in my seat. The chair sticks to the back of my legs. I feel a hint of the summer breeze through the screen door to my left, but it feels so far away. I want to close my eyes, but I’m not quite tired. I want to lay down in the sun, but I don’t know if I could shut my mind off if I did. I want to go for a walk, but it doesn’t seem like I have enough time. I just want to feel something different than what I am. You know what I mean?
I haven’t ran in two weeks. Running and writing have always been the two things to keep me rooted to my heart. Everything else has taken priority—my move, the laundry, hanging pictures, cooking dinner—and I know I can’t beat myself up for that. I know I can’t be angry that I only have twenty-four hours in a day, and I am only one human trying to navigate that stretch of time. But I still feel unsatisfied.
It’s like I’m looking in the mirror and only seeing the things I didn’t finish written in the corners of my mouth, hiding in the lines around my eyes. It’s like the words are taunting me, the white of the screen glaring in my eyes.
I’m tired. But it’s not that I’m tired, truly, just tired of feeling like I’m running in circles around myself, trying to get to that place I’m supposed to be—a place that I perhaps won’t even recognize when I get there.
I shift in my seat again, get up, and move myself and the dog outside. Here the breeze is tangible; I can feel it on my skin. Here, my bare feet touch the concrete and I can hear the hums of cars—reminders of life going on all around me, and maybe time isn’t really running out.
A plane drifts overhead; my boyfriend’s dog settles at my feet. I write words because writing has never been something I’m afraid of, even if it feels like my hands are a stranger’s. I write about the weather, write about the trees, write about the clinking of glasses on tables and the lull of voices around me. I write until the sentences seem to flow again, and I remember that I’m okay—right here, right now, even when my soul feels exhausted. I am okay. I am still me. And things will settle again. In the meantime, I will keep going.
Featured Image Credit: Camylla Battani