Writing to Live: Why I Write About My Experiences
I was walking with my wife earlier today, something we do often. Our walks seem to have an "opening up" effect on our minds, and we have some of our best conversations while ambling about. We were discussing how often men try to speak for women in the United States--and how this is especially prevalent in politics.
Men often feel the need to blabber on from a position of authority on a wide range of women's issues, even when they will never have the lived experience that women have.
I soon connected that idea to my writing.
There are certain topics that I will never write about--topics I couldn't ever write about because I lack the requisite experience.
As I age, I've come to realize this about myself--that I'm very much an experiential person.
I attempt to make sense of my experiences with my words.
I'm prone to strong emotions, and words are a paltry substitute for my initial feelings.
Words are symbolic. They are sounds used to create meaning. They are not the meaning themselves. But they are better than nothing.
So I write about things that I've experienced.
And one such thing happens to be mental health.
I've always been a sensitive person, and I believe that I can authentically capture my heightened sensitivity in the form of words, sentences, and paragraphs. I couldn't do the same kind of thing regarding cooking, for instance, or mowing the lawn, or paying my bills.
I have done these things, but they don't move me profoundly.
I believe it is best for me to write about what I know. And I know my mental health.
And I believe that coming to better understand my mental health will help me to better understand the mental health of others.
My body is a microcosm of the universe. I don't mean that in a self-involved way. What I mean is that I believe, by learning to trust my own experience, I have discovered that there are universal principles that emerge from the daily grind of existence.
For example, the more I lived life in my head, the more I felt like I realized the plight of other anxious minds.
Of course, I eventually need to leave my head--and my house--and test my ideas in the real world. I need to see if there are other humans out there who act and think and feel as I do.
The strange thing is, the more I test my hypotheses of zany ideas and actions, the more I realize just how alike we all are.
And the more I write about what I know, the more I realize there is still so much that remains to be learned.
There is still so much to uncover.
Writing is a process of sifting through the soil of my psyche.
Something that was elusive a moment prior is abruptly illuminated by the patter of a few keystrokes. That thought propels me to another--and then to another.
Before I know it, I've connected several ideas in my head to form a coherent new system or narrative.
In the process, when the writing draws to a close, I hopefully have been true to myself.
Because I've learned that being true to myself encourages others to be true to themselves.
And when two authentic individuals come together with open minds, the truth they find together is something, deep down, they knew all along.