“Write with your eyes like painters, with your ears like musicians, with your feet like dancers. You are the truthsayer with quill and torch. Write with your tongues on fire. Don’t let the pen banish you from yourself. Don’t let the ink coagulate in your pens. Don’t let the censor snuff out the spark, nor the gags muffle your voice. Put your shit on the paper.”
– Gloria Anzaldúa
Put your shit on the paper.
Five months have come and gone without a single specimen of creativity. Five months have come and gone without the tapping tap tapping of the keys. Five months, and I haven’t put my shit on the paper, at least not intentionally, not voluntarily, not the way I want to. That doesn’t mean there’s been nothing to say. On the contrary, there’s been more to say these past five months than any other time in this chapter of my life:
go to the office, put your butt in a chair, but why?, I love you!, om nama shivaya, om shanti, please take three minutes to complete your Do Now silently and independently, AzMERIT, step one, step two, everybody line up!, I want you, good morning :), coffee?, Hi my name is Savannah and the word of the day is, take your hat off please, this is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, namaste, step your right foot forward between your hands, 20 school days, 3 school days, I HATE water day, thank god it’s summer!, good morning, I love you
The words have poured out of my mouth and into space. Sometimes like tears, sometimes like screams, sometimes like raindrops, like laughter, like wine, like water, like comets, like waves colliding with people and hurling them down into the sea… but never like ink pouring onto paper. I’ve found these past five months that I can speak, but I cannot write. This paradox has led me to think about what it is that allows me to put my shit on the paper and what it is that never lets it land there. I think the determining factor has a lot to do with the prefix “re-.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines “re-” primarily as “once more; afresh, anew.” It then follows this definition with many more, the second being “with return to a previous state” as in “restore” or “revert.” For me, writing is a means of reflection, a sort of review, a revisiting of past events, thoughts, and lessons. All of those “re-” prefixes imply returning. To return means to steer yourself to a previous place, condition, or experience rather than continuing with your eyes set on what lies ahead. Hence why I’ve found it nearly impossible to write: living fully for the past five months has required that all of my energy and effort be directed forward. I’ve not been able to reflect on what has come and gone; I’ve only had room enough to bask, and burn, in the present.
With that said, I can now take refuge in a more fluid, slow-moving present: summer. During these short months, I have the space to revisit what I’ve learned and felt from January to June. I can review moments in which I made and grew from mistakes. I can restore the rhythm of the rapping on the keys. I can return to the past so that I may arrive in the future a little wiser. I can breathe. And as I exhale, I hope the breath will turn into words and travel down my arms into my fingertips where the words will turn to notes and the notes into music and the music into truth.
Renew. Return. Rejoice.