thought for the week

As children, we played freely with sound and expression. But somewhere along the way we began editing what came naturally to us. We heard others tell their stories differently; we noticed the praise they got. Or we watched stories played out on television and concluded that they were more exciting than what we had made up on our own. Gradually, subtly, we began to hold things in, instead of turning them loose into the world. And our precious energy went the way of the kingdoms, and the angels. The trolls stayed on; they just changed form — appearing as anger, sadness, guilt, frustration, fear. These trolls went into our bodies to hide; and all the criticisms we heard and believed about ourselves marched in right behind them.

We want to become as free to create as we were in childhood. We know that what we have to tell is unique, unike what anyone else would reveal. To do this, we must be willing to give voice to the dusty collection of disappointments and anxieties that crowd our inner territory.

So much of creativity is an attempt to retranslate the most closely guarded stories of our lives. The insistent archaeologist within us demands that we detect our own tension, stress, and distress and trace them back to their origins. As Marion Woodman observes, “Powerful energies are locked in our bodies.” If we do not discharge the pressures stored in our muscles and tissues, in our backs, our faces, throats, and bellies, in our arms and legs, then the energy gets stuck. When we don’t release these tensions, we often end up in a breathless effort to talk them out or write them out, when it would have been easier to stretch, sigh, shout, pound, punch, or dance them out in the beginning.

                      ~ John Lee, Writing from the Body (St. Martin’s Press, 1994)