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I write, mostly to keep my head from exploding. It threatens to do that a lot. My blog is the pixelated version of all the voices in my head. I tend to dive into what connects me to God, my community, my family and my doubt. I do a lot of searching, not as much finding. I’m good with that. I have learned, finally, to live comfortably in the gray. In the meantime, I wrestle with God, and my doubt and my joy.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Omer. Days 11 through 22

I have not forgotten the count.

I swear I have not (or, as my mother would always say when making a sacred promise or needed to emphasize the truth she was about to utter, "Shma.")

Every day, from Day 11 through today, Day 22, I have stopped for a minute or two to be mindful of the day. I have counted it: Today is Day (whatever), which is X weeks and y days of the Omer. Not exactly what the rabbis (and maybe even God) had in mind, but I counted every one of them.

The writing, on the other hand, that's a different story of over-laden plates and procrastination and stubborn perfectionism and even more stubborn paralysis. It's a progression. It's annoying, mostly because I can feel it coming on: first the running of the wheel like a hamster, faster and faster, getting nowhere except winded and slightly sweaty, then on to the horsehair shirt of shame and should, and going full on to staring at the train racing for me as I stand immobile on the tracks, waiting for the crash and juggling all the metaphors with inevitability and aplomb

What's most annoying is that I know this progression. I have been through enough therapy, sat through a one too many AA meetings to be able to identify the exact moment that I get onto the wheel. No. Correction: I can identify with pinpoint accuracy the exact moment that I drag the wheel into place and give it a test spin or three, dust it off and shine it up. Yay me.

And like Scheherazade, I have a thousand and one stories of just why I can't seem to get out of the way of that frikkin train. Some even seem quite reasonable. And, I'd say that 98% of them are even true. But in this stupid drama of mine, truth really isn't the issue.

What is at issue is my fear. Sure, there's a huge dash of perfectionism that goes into it. My use of the delete key and backspace are testament to that. It's not just the essay. It's not just the poem. It's not the paragraph or verse or sentence or grammatical stop. My perfectionism boils down to the word. Every word must be perfect, in look, in sound (out loud and in my head), and the feel of it as I roll it around on my tongue, and taste it on my breath. Which, of course, means that there are a thousand million things that never get written.

And all of this masks the real fear of what if I write something bad? As if I haven't! Trust me, Whatever critique or criticism any of you (whomever you are, and thank you for reading!) may have of my work, trust me: I have ripped every word, and all the spaces between all the words, to shreds, several times over. Every. Single. Piece. Even the ones I secretly really love. They are all grist for the mill of my perfectionism.

And so I don't write (or I write and delete and write and delete in some kind of insane two-step). and the days pile up, and the writing becomes a weight of a thousand years, and the more I don't write, the harder it is to get back to it, and the easier it is to play in the mud of my shame. And at some point, I wait, with no small shred of gratitude, for the train to come.

At least there will be movement then.

Ugh. I am so tired of this little dance. And I know better, that's the stupid thing! I know that it doesn't have to be like this, I know that I can choose another path. I know that I can just sit down and write and let the voices in my head have at it while I play with the pixels. And yet, I choose, again and again, way more often than I care to admit, to trudge that weary path of perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis.

So maybe, as I both trudge that tired old path, and make my way to Sinai, maybe this boulder that I have so willingly and lovingly carried with me all this weary way, perhaps I can leave it by the roadside, so that I come to Sinai lighter and freer and ready.

Shma.