The Mystery Not Solved

B picIn the fall of 2007, I had an 8:00AM English 101 class. A lady who appeared in her 40s started warmly and enthusiastically, and I was excited about her interest in the class. It’s also exciting when someone finds the courage to go back to school. Think of the dreams that precede us seeing a student appear in class.

For purposes here, I’ll call her Josie. That’s not her real name. I don’t want to embarrass her if this blog finds her in this world of the unlikely. It’s not that she should be embarrassed, just that I don’t know if she would be.

overcoming writer's block - crumpled paper on ...

She did one homework assignment, and then sat every class staring at her computer screen without typing even a sentence. I thought, “It’s writer’s block. She’ll get over it.” But she didn’t. I would go over and chat with her, suggesting ideas for free-writing that might help her get a few thoughts onto paper. Nothing helped, and she became increasingly self-conscious and frustrated, withdrawing eventually after getting way behind.

Last night I woke up at 3:00AM. There I lay awake and hungry. I could lie there flip flopping and think, “Why me? This is weird” or perhaps get a snack and let the carbs go to work.

Best chocolate chip cookies I've made in decades.

However, the chocolate chip cookies and milk brought a surge of energy, and for the first time in years, Josie came to mind. I wondered what Josie is doing.

This was also curious because I had been frustrated myself while trying to think of an idea for this blog, thinking, “What if I freeze up and can’t do another one?”

Everything about her suggested that she must be doing fine now and doing a super job somewhere in a field she loves. What was her block in my class? Maybe I reminded her of a ghastly father who demanded perfection. We never know what triggers a sudden association with trauma. Maybe it was a former English teacher. It’s still a mystery not solved.

writer's block

writer’s block (Photo credit: K. Sawyer Photography)

How did I get past writer’s block to do this piece? I go into a place I call nothing and relax there, thinking, “If anything pops out, it will come out of nothing.” I watch. I’m now separated from the outcome while watching as a spectator to see what will or will not happen. If a wave of movement stirs, I take the little, flat board of my mind and ride it, wanting to describe it and be one with it.

Most of the time, a wave stirs. I’m resigned either way. Since the urges of life include the mystery of how movement begins, life is gracious to share its urges with me. I don’t know if this would work for Josie. Anything she discovered is fine. That’s part of solving the mystery: it can only be solved by the person in need.

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