Life

Blocked

For a writer, one of life’s most painful experiences is writer’s block. I have found myself to be in its grips lately—suffocating under a blanket of nothing to say. My laptop cursor blinks impatiently at me as I try to think of something worth writing in this blog. I decided to search for advice for unblocking writer’s block. I came across a quotation by Bashar: “If you have writer’s block, write about having writer’s block, and you will no longer have it.”

And so I start. But first my mind wants to know who Bashar is. To my great surprise, I learned that he (she?) is a multi-dimensional being who speaks through channel Darryl Anka. Hmmm. I’m intrigued by the notion of a multi-dimensional being. And who the heck is Darryl Anka? All at once I’m off on a tangent to learn the answers to both of these questions. I discovered that Anka is a writer and film producer who experienced UFOs in the 1970s. It seems he was then able to channel one of the other worldly characters, whose name is Bashar, which means “messenger” or “bringer of good news” in Arabic.

Now I feel wholly inadequate. Not only does Bashar’s name have a meaty connotation while mine means “honeybee,” but the extra-terrestrial’s words are published alongside Kurt Vonnegut while my cursor still sits blinking.

The quest to understand Bashar is not the only rabbit hole I’ve traveled down lately. During a walk recently, I was listening to “Return to Pooh Corner” by one of my favorite musicians, Kenny Loggins. It’s a song I have both admired and been mystified by for years. I played it over and over one day, mulling over the words and their meaning. To me the message is a poignant one about the ending of youth. Loggins wrote it as a 17 year old, as he neared his high school graduation. What has always puzzled me about the song is the last verse:

It’s hard to explain how a few precious things
Seem to follow throughout all our lives
After all’s said and done I was watching my son
Sleeping there, with my bear by his side
So I tucked him in, I kissed him and as I was going
I swear that old bear whispered, “boy, welcome home”

Off to do more research. I learned there was the original “House at Pooh Corner,” but Loggins re-recorded the song years later as “Return to Pooh Corner,” adding the last verse: his adult perspective on the passage of time.

There’s something about that final stanza—the cadence, the tempo and those words “boy, welcome home”—that grabs me. I love the thought that, through our children, we are able to transport ourselves back into our own childhood—into those simpler times that made us who we are.

If only that were possible now. I long for the lucidity of youth and the purity in friendships and life that existed then. These days I feel as if I’m walking through a fog, waiting for this crisis to end, ready for a return to routine, to the new normal that awaits us. Although the horrid COVID virus may thankfully not have (yet) impacted my body, it surely has clouded my mental clarity and blurred my hopeful horizon.

Recently, whenever I can, I take refuge in our neighborhood swimming pool. Protected from the scorching sun, beneath the surface of the water, all chatter is blocked and although I still feel I have nothing to say, I am content with that. Perhaps when words escape us, when all of life is a chaotic cymbal clanging in our brains, what we need—what will get us to the other side—is silence.

I’ve had to accept it’s okay not to have the answers, or even a clear articulation of the questions that plague me. Thomas Merton, the American Trappist monk, agreed. He wrote that “there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.”

Maybe the very essence of peace is being okay with having nothing to say—with tripping down rabbit holes in your mind, loitering in childhood memories, letting good music wash over you and cool water restore you. As I stare up at the cotton clouds from my swimming pool bed, I am and feel nothing. And I’m reminded of Pooh and his creator, A.A. Milne, who said, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.”

Indeed.

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