The Path Not Taken, Yet
This is a difficult blog for me to write. I’ve been sort of avoiding it since I got home from the Writing by Writers conference in Tomales Bay, Calif. But a week has passed and it’s time to step up. The reason I’ve been avoiding this blog is that as soon as I articulate what I’m about to say, as soon as I tell you what I think, I have to follow through. That’s just how I am. You’ll never know if I do it or not, but I will.
So what’s the “it?” Slogging through the emotional mud, that’s what.
Here’s the deal. A couple of pieces I read for that week in California — short stories or memoir excerpts from my fellow students — vibrated with emotion. Immediately, I knew why. The writers were going into the deep, dark places in their hearts that the rest of us avoid. They were drawing from the moments in their lives that were the most difficult to face, where they messed up terribly or where they felt humiliated or scared. They were cutting open their chests and letting the gunk inside spill out onto the page.
How disgusting. How uncomfortable. How beautiful.
A couple of weeks before the conference, I took a one-day seminar with Steve Almond and something he said kept reverberating that week in Tomales Bay. “The path to the truth runs through shame.”
This is the path I must turn down. I can see it ahead of me, long and muddy, oozing with regret and stinking of guilt. It is not a journey I look forward to, but it’s one I have to take. And with any luck, I won’t be coming back.
Credit: benefit of hindsight/Flickr Creative Commons