And God Said Nothing. (Rant of an Aging Creative).

From a writer’s group exercise. Thanks to Nadine for the reflection prompts.

She told God she wanted to tell stories, to spin life from words and infect everyone around her with beauty and hope, to speak the truths that slice like blades, cutting away the rotten, deadened flesh of battle scars. She told God she wanted to burn bright and warm and contagious, light begetting light, fire begetting fire, so the earth would blaze like the night sky. She told God she wanted to cry the tears of the Phoenix, healing the hurts of those with whom she mourned, and calling forth resurrections from the broken, battered children all around.

This is what she told God, and God said that all this was good, and meant, and more, and that she would never be alone or forsaken.

And then God sent her into exile. She wrote alone, she burned alone, she wept alone. Her fire flickered and faltered, grew dim and cold, and she spent herself trying to shore up the wan little ember that remained. With neither strength nor conviction, she muttered the bitter old cliche: “Why?”

And God said nothing.

And God said nothing.

And God said nothing.

***

It’s hard to live in the moment when the moment seems like the opposite of what you want. Maybe that’s selfish and immature, I’ve lost all perspective, but I found too many moments unbearable, and so I live now at a distance from reality, in exile from myself, coming back to visit a moment occasionally, to see if the sense of it has changed, but it hasn’t, so I withdraw again to my dying campfire of love or self or passion or whatever it was I used to burn with.

I used to find that gratitude journals kept me grounded and present and thankful, but now whenever I attempt lists, I am overly aware of the thinness of the straws at my fingertips. They connect me to nothing, they end a few inches past the end of my reach, and in their futility, they only emphasize my exile and joylessness.

I wonder if my goals are paper puppets, stupid little fantasies to keep me company in the blackness, imaginary friends. I cannot say if I am lost because I’m not even sure I am moving, or that there is anything to move to or from, or if I even have a shape anymore.

A friend and I talked recently about shapes. We talked about the shapes of our bodies, youthful, pregnant, post-babies, post-surgery. She said she used to have this image of herself, that perhaps she wasn’t so pretty, but at least she had a good body. She looked good naked. She said that in her head, this is still how she exists, but that in reality that girl doesn’t exist anymore, post-babies, post-surgery, when her tummy is an alien terrain, unrecognizable to her.

And she observed in passing, as if it were the most obvious, easy thing in the world, that I probably have an image of myself as a creative person surrounded by creative people, and that person maybe just doesn’t exist anymore, and that the trick is in letting go of the old image.

Let the false images die, let the false selves die, let the ego die, die to Me that you may live, for whosoever loses her life for My sake will find it. The words cut me, like blasphemy (but against whom? gods real or imaginary?), both absurd and absurdly painful, and I wonder.

Clearly, something is dying, whether I want it to or not, whether I allow it or not (what a joke!). It was always beyond my control. And God says nothing. And God says nothing. And I hold to the old wishes, and I believe they were affirmed, that they were important, but what if they weren’t? Perhaps they were imaginary friends. And perhaps if I let go, allow the death and (hopeful) resurrection, there will be creativity in a new dimension on the other side. Or perhaps something so foreign that I can’t recognize it at all, like Narnia after the fall of Narnia.

That’s the TOTALLY SUCKY thing about dying selves – it never feels any less like dying, no matter how many times you think you’ve been there, done that. Always the blackness, always the silence, always the pain, always the utter lack of self or choice or dignity.

I can’t frame my life without that image of myself. I don’t know my own shape if I don’t have that to lean into. And maybe that’s the point? Maybe the frame has to die because I am even bigger than I thought. Maybe I’ve been using it as a crutch, to feel safe, filling up the small space I created for myself, feeling important that way, propping up my idea of my life. But I have no schema, no scaffolding, no analogy, no imaginative tool to leap outside of it. It’s a blind wasteland from here. A Great Blank. Like being in the womb (and DAMMIT I WASN’T GOING TO RESORT TO BIRTH ANALOGIES.)

Oh well.

Anyway.

“I can’t believe you did this to me,” she said to God.

And God said nothing.

And they sat in the darkness together for a while longer.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “And God Said Nothing. (Rant of an Aging Creative).

  1. You do have a way of saying things, birth analogies or no birth analogies.

  2. And so your barefooted walk through the mist continues…and from somewhere out beyond the vines and twisted branches of the garden you hear me mumble something from the darkness…”I may not be familiar with that particular garden, but I know the sound of familiar footsteps when I hear them. I wish them well.”

  3. aabsofsteel

    I’m so glad you put this “out there.” Thanks for sharing. You describe agony beautifully.

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