The Blank Page. I have been staring at this thing now for quite some time. For a LONG time. For MONTHS now. The Blank Page is daunting to anyone who has a passion for words. A vast expanse of nothing begging to be filled with some form of brilliance, a brilliance I expect myself to bring. Except I have been feeling less than brilliant lately.
It was a friend’s statement one evening while we were enjoying dinner that got me pondering this blank page. “You need to write more consistently,” she said. Those words always make my heart sink to the vicinity somewhere near my ankles. Heaving the usual sigh I replied, “I know. But I’m staring at the big…blank…page!” “Then you need to write about the big blank page,” she said.
How does one write about The Blank Page, about the nothingness that descends upon a writer’s mind, the kind of nothingness that seems so endless it keeps you up at night? I thought, Well, it’s like writing about an open field blanketed in snow. HOW THE HELL DO YOU DESCRIBE THAT?!!! It’s a whole bunch of NOTHING! Big…deal!
And the answer came: Look at the field through the eyes of a poet. A snowy field is far from lacking in description. Look at it as a poet.
It’s true. A poet would see the undulations of the land beneath the snow. She would see the shadows cast, the sparkles of the sun. Heck, she would even see the minute details of each and every individual snowflake. So I began to investigate The Blank Page in the same way. What could I see?
Truthfully, I could see nothing outside of The Blank Page, but I could hear something beckoning to me, so I decided to listen. The Voice had many layers.
The first layer started with, “Ach! Why? Who cares? I have nothing to say. I can’t write when I have nothing to say. I’ll wait for inspiration to strike and THEN, when I have something useful to say, I will write.”
Which moved to, “Time. I HAVE NO TIME!!!!!!!!!!! Can’t you see that? What do you expect from me? Miracles? Between working to pay our bills at jobs I don’t particularly enjoy, and studying yoga for our upcoming classes, and co-maintaining a wonderful relationship, and trying to keep in touch with friends, and cooking for people and the cats, and preparing food because YOU have decided to go gluten-free, and fitting in a yoga class or exercise, WHEN, pray tell, do you expect us to find the time to WRITE?!!! WE HAVE TO SLEEP SOME TIME, YOU KNOW?!!!”
And underneath the anger were rich tears. Hot, sad tears that led to a despair that speaks to the desolation of my soul. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” said the sad Voice. “This is not the way it was meant to be.”
Desolation of my soul. Starvation. Inattention to my needs. The Blank Page, which clearly isn’t blank at all, begs the larger question: How have I been ignoring my needs?
The Voice asks, “How can you feel inspired, how can you be capable of giving, Tabitha, when you have deprived your soul-body of any sustenance? When was the last time you spent any quiet time with yourself, in complete solitude? When have you touched base with the Nature that surrounds you and fills you up? When have you last spoken with the birds and the trees and the sky and the wind? When…have…you…last…spoken…with…God?”
At the very centre of the question there lays a silence, a stillness that only comes from understanding, from truly understanding the process.
The Blank Page is a signpost, a checkpoint that says, “Kiddo, you’re running too fast and you’re losing touch with what is. You’re too bound up in duty to everyone and everything outside of you and your God. You are starving yourself here, becoming spiritually anorexic. You need to feed. In order to thrive, to be at peace, and to love, you MUST feed.”
Last week I went for a long walk and heard the voices of the trees. I explored a bit of the world around me by going to second hand clothing stores just to see some of the remarkable things out there. I played for a bit. I prayed for a bit. And I began to feel myself coming back on track. Admittedly, I still do not feel I have anything of brilliance to say but I feel okay enough within my world to admit to that. And I am feeding, taking slow small bites of the world around me, rejuvenating my soul in the same way I would begin to nourish my body after a fast. Just as the winter-weary world is doing around me, I am slowly coming back to life, one…small…step…at a time.
So now I ask you: When The Blank Page, in whatever version speaks to you, shows up in YOUR life, what is it trying to tell you? Listen. Learn. Feed. So you can live. So you can Love.