We all need a way to escape from the ever increasing demands of our daily lives, and we all seek solace or smiles in different ways. It could be yoga, reading, running, cooking, movie watching, or shopping—anything that helps us reconnect to ourselves. For me, it’s writing.
So many people have a need to forget, to avoid the pressures and stresses and all of the emotional turmoil felt on a daily basis in our constantly constant society. But writing does just the opposite. It brings us closer to the craziness. Writing forces us into the throngs of feeling, bringing up emotions long subdued or hitherto unknown, makes us think about things done or undone or not done. While reading allows us to enter an imaginary realm of absolute possibility, writing brings reality fully formed and formidable into the light.
The act of writing is an action, a hobby, a practice, sometimes a chore, often a necessity. But more than that, it can be an art, or a salve for even the deepest of hurts. It is an expression of the soul, a pouring out of emotion, a confession to an impartial audience.
As a teacher, I see so many kids fight tooth and nail against the requirement to put pen to paper. So accustomed are they to the brevity and informality of text lingo and Instagram comments that the imposing thought of even a paragraph seems a monumental task. They increase font size and margin size, space out the letters and lines just a little bit more than they should, anything to get out of filling the paper with their own words. Reading and writing become a strictly enforced form of conditioning.
But they miss its essence, its purpose, its ability to grant them the freedom teenagers, and all of us, so desperately seek: the freedom to be and say and feel however we want without judgement or consequence.
I write because I’m a reader. I was an extremely quiet, shy kid, and loved books more than people. I fell in love with the sounds and meanings of words, and the way they made me feel, how they could make me escape into another world. I wanted nothing more than to create something like that. I would lose myself in words like indefatigable: tireless, impossible to stop, enduring. The word just sounds powerful, strong, and a bit old fashioned, which makes me love it even more. The connotations of endless effort, of perseverance in the face of anything and everything that comes in our way, of never giving up no matter what, so much meaning packed into a few short syllables.
As I grew older, I realized how significant personal writing was, and started keeping journals as my own form of therapy, creative release, and the best way to communicate with the world. I still am shy of speaking, but feel powerful when I’m writing my words. The words themselves, their shape and the way they build upon each other is so beautiful to me. Words are an art form, in use, sound and construction.
I feel it deep within me when I need to write. The words seem to fill up inside me and transform into longing, a need, a hunger amidst the fullness of things unsaid. It becomes hard to concentrate on anything. I find myself narrating in my head the most mundane of tasks, “the shopping cart halted in seeming slow motion just inches away from the corner of the cereal box, balanced on the precipice where stillness or an avalanche of cheerios each seemed equally likely.”
My hands ache with the need to put shape to my feelings, my thoughts, the innermost workings of my heart and soul, to turn myself inside out on paper, to express the excess of ideas and sentiment and questions and comments rolling around inside my brain. I need to live through and with and in and under and out my words, to make permanent and tangible those fleeting moments of love and laughter and hope and hurt.
So in an age when language is enduring an appalling transformation back to its simplest and most archaic form, I write on, indefatigably. Not for a grade, nor for an audience, but to fulfill the will to write and to send words out to the world. Instead of escaping reality, I recompose it into syllables and sentences, turn existence to pen and paper, and hope that somehow, someway it makes a difference to someone.
Relephant Read: Join: Elephant Academy
Author: Gabriella Sweezey
Editor: Travis May