Atrophying — Mary – 7/28/2015


July 28, 2015

Dear M,

You recently moved to a different house. The little creek two feet from your porch thrilled you because you remember how your mom loved sitting by a creek way back when. Then the rains came and flooded the whole yard, and if one more foot of water had risen above your Jeep’s tires, it would have swept it along, but it didn’t. The water receded, leaving a soggy mess of sticks and plastic bottles.

Words, scenes, and conversations enter your mind since the rains came and flooded the culvert. It looks like a proper creek now, the rocks have shifted and they are arranged just so, and how you’ve missed that, watching clear water run down; it’s so relaxing to feel the breeze flowing every now and then toward you in this week’s heat wave. You had moved the Jeep that day, and it makes you wonder: if only it were that easy to move troublesome things in our lives.

You went to the doctor’s office for your regular checkup a couple weeks ago and found out some surprising news. You’ve lost too much weight for your height. Learning you’ve atrophied shifted your thoughts, your words, your writing. No wonder your daughters and son have been asking, “What are you doing?” all the time. They don’t understand your passion. You’ve written stories since you were twenty years old. Maybe you’re not emoting, but you still write, which consumed you for two whole years.

You promptly left the writing alone, shocked to the core at what you had found out at the doctor’s office. You needed to get up out of the chair and move your body around more.
Now you’re painting—no, not on a canvas, but on the walls in the house where you currently live.

To think you’ll ever stop writing pains you, and you know you won’t quit. Now you’re taking time to tend to your health and stop trying so hard to “get it right” all the time, and to think you’ve almost lost your pleasure of writing for the sake of writing as you used to do every day. You haven’t lost your joy, but your perception has changed. Just write your story. That’s what editors are for, to help you with your work.

Just don’t let writing cause you to consume your body again. You’re not chained to a desk as often. You need to let your mind rest and the pieces of your story will fall into place, you hope. You’re gaining the weight back, slowly and surely.

You realize you have to take time for yourself to let the words flow. Watching the creek helps you to find your balance and dream of new worlds to write about.

Don’t let your words consume you until you atrophy.


To read more letters, click on The Path!

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