For Saturday, April 16, 2016:
“Three thousand miles away: another one who knows.” – Zen koan
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage reborn.” – Anne Frank
“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.” – T. S. Eliot
A friend of mine is trying to make it through an unbearable sadness from an unknown source. It occurred to me that perhaps she is sensitive enough to pick up on the distress of the Japanese people who have been and are affected by the two earthquakes this week.
This happens to me on occasion, too. Sometimes it’s from natural disasters and I presume that’s the source of my unexpected sadness, tears, and heavy heart. Other times I can’t identify the why, what, or whom, but I’ve learned to live into the sorrow on behalf of an ‘other’ or others whose names and situations I don’t know and hope I can support them with my thoughts and prayers.
One of the things that helps me get through these times is to write about them. If I am picking up despair from elsewhere, I can just imagine how overwhelming it must be for the person(s) going through the distress themselves. So I write what I’m feeling and then try to multiply it for the ones I feel I’m tapping into. It’s like Buddhist prayer flags in a way, as if I’m sending healing out into the universe with my words.
Writing longhand works best for me in these instances. The physicality – and reduced speed – of putting pen to paper is a deeper experience than typing on a keyboard. And for the last few years, I’ve slowed down the process even more by using my non-dominant hand.
It is a process, this diving into an unknown emotional darkness, but the non-dominant vehicle of my left hand connects up with my right brain and makes it a process that is also creative. I believe this makes it more therapeutic, too – for me, yes, but more importantly for those whose heartache and confusion I’m trying to reach.
Somehow I feel like the bit of time and energy I expend on behalf of someones I don’t know is a creative force that will make at least a little bit of a difference. If I can feel their suffering from 3000 miles or more away – or just next door – perhaps they can feel my attempts as well, and, I hope, find some small measure of comfort.