Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is there an Rx for that?

Once, there was this fly stuck in the bottom of a glass coke bottle.  I wrote a poem about the fly and it's attempts to escape its clear prison that it had entered out of simple curiosity.  At least that's what I thought I was writing about.

The poem was published in some literary anthology... my copy lost long ago.  I remember there was someone who commented on my poem; it was a "moving commentary on being lost in the depths of despair," (or something similar).  Huh?  Where did they get that?  It's just some imaginary fly trapped in a bottle.  I was angry that this unknown person was making this assumption of the meaning of my poem -- how dare he/she?!?  I put the anthology away, as well as my copy of the poem.  Stupid Literary Experts.

I stumbled across that poem a few years later, and read it with a more experienced eye.  I teared up while reading each line... it turned out the Literary Creep was right.  It wasn't just about a fly scrambling to climb out of its trap, and getting more and more weary at each attempt.  It was me.  I was the fly.  And I had just started to explore my own prison when I wrote the poem... and it would be years before I would crawl my way out.

My prison was just like the bottle:  clear, yet objects were distorted when looking through; it appeared safe in its solitude, maybe no one would notice the tiny fly struggling inside (which is what was most desired); it was ordinary, everyone felt like they were trapped in their own bottle... didn't they...?

The most amazing words anyone ever said to me were, "Not everyone feels like you do, Hope.  And you don't have to."  I focused on those words for years to come.  They were my one beacon of light to swim towards.  Those words kept me going through the nausea, the tremors, the hair loss, the weight gain.  There was only one side effect that almost kept me from continuing with my trial-by-error experiments to dissolve the glass walls:  the loss of my art.

I grew up a little artist.  Watercolors, crayon, pencil... anything I could get my hands on to create freeze-frames of the beauty I saw around me.  And writing, glorious writing!  Essays, short stories, poetry, research papers... I loved writing anything at all!  And it was so easy!  I would just sit at a piece of paper and the words would just pour out onto the paper (later they would pour through my fingers onto the keyboard)!  I would wake up in the middle of the night with a story or a poem that just had to come out!  Once it was on paper, it was perfect.  No editing necessary.  I struggled with many an English professor that would try to get me to change anything about my writings.

I was going to be a Writer.  I wanted to work for a magazine like The New Yorker.  It was the only thing I truly loved to do, and had to do.  The words would keep my up at night if I didn't let them out on the paper next to my bed.

Then, suddenly, the words were gone.  They were replaced by emptiness.  I would sit in front of a blank screen and wait for the familiar movements while my heart communicated with the computer via my fingers.  My fingers were still.  I was still able to write good research papers for classes, but the wonderful little characters that inhabited my world had suddenly walked away.  The glass wall was a little thinner, but the world outside seemed lifeless.  

I begged the Experimenters to change their formula -- give me back my passion!  I was told that sometimes this was an unfortunate side effect.  So sorry.  Deal with it.  And I decided to leave my talent behind in the bottle.  I have finally made it through the despair and anguish; and it was almost worth it...

Eleven years have gone by since then.  And I'm hoping that I can coax the little writing girl inside to come out and play.


  1. I'd say mission accomplished. I miss my words, too. I just don't feel that compulsion for brain barfing when the demons inside aren't stirring everything up.

  2. These are beautiful words Hope. It's amazing to me how we can be distracted with life's struggles and mundane expectations that end up stifling our own passions we had as kids. I stopped playing the keyboard and writing music when I was 19. It took me 18 years to write another one.:D I'd say that little writing girl is well on her way to completely coming out and playing in all kinds of weather! :D

  3. Hope, I love it. Thank you for including me on this! I never realized that you are such an artist, but I'm not at all surprised. This is beautifully written and I look forward to reading more. And I am so, so thankful that the dispair and anguish is behind you....I hate that you went through that, but I do understand and have been there myself. Let's never go back, OK? Onward and upward!

  4. I find it truly amazing that you can know someone your entire life and still not know what is really going on beneath the surface. I hope you never deny up passions again. You are truly amazing.