I finished reading Emma Donoghue’s, Room this morning and can’t get it out of my head. Room is told from the viewpoint of a five year old named Jack who is imprisoned in an underground room with his mother. Jack doesn’t know he is a prisoner because his mother has built him a world where living in a room is normal. Everything in the room has a name and a place, and to Jack these things have magical qualities that make them almost like living things. Rules govern every moment of time in the room; designed partly to keep Jack safe but also to help his mother retain her sanity.
While their eventual escape from the room is a blessing for his mother, for Jack it is a confusing experience and he wants nothing more than to return to the familiarity of the room. He longs for all of the things that filled the room and for all of the routines that governed his life. Instead he is forced to change his routines and grow used to new things. Behaviors that were acceptable before are frowned upon in this bigger world. There are more rules, rules that make no sense and violate the rules Jack is used to.
When Jack finally talks his mother into returning to the room he finds it is not as wonderful as he had remembered. It is smaller inside, and while his things look familiar he does not find them as compelling as they used to be. Jack realizes that he has outgrown the room and he says goodbye to it and walks back out into the bigger world.
I identify with Jack’s unique view of the world, or with the idea that we all have a unique view of the world. As we grow up we learn the societal norms, we learn how to fit in, and how to fall in line. We carve out safe little rooms of our own that we put our personal beliefs and rules in. Many of these rooms are public that we present to those in our extended social circle. Some are private that we share with only a select few. Then there is that one inner room that we share with no one, which contains all of those things we fear would reveal too much about us. Would people like us if they knew who we really were? Would they understand our view of the world?
It is when you are willing to move beyond that fear that the world becomes really interesting. Messy. Frightening. Exhilarating. The mistakes you make are agonizing and you are embarrassed that you made them and you are so mortified that you don’t want to put yourself in that position again. At that point you have two choices: retreat to that safe little room where everything is comfortable and familiar, or continue to build on this new room until it becomes as familiar and comfortable as the old. The second choice means that you are likely to continue this process again and again and perhaps forever because once you have discovered that the fear is not as bad as you had feared it would be, you won’t be able to stop.
An outline of my own recent journey. I wonder what’s next.
Take me there, to that place of uncertainty, that place where I question everything and am content when I can’t find the answers. That place I fear because it is new, and yet still anticipate because of the promise I see.
I yearn for that tomorrow place, that place where the sky and the land meet, where the water goes on forever.
I want to feel the bark of the trees under my hands, I want to taste the berries straight from the bush, I want to feel the dirt and the grass under my feet.
The wind and the rain and the sun and the stars, and the moon a shining beacon leading me forward into that magical place where there is no tomorrow but only a wondrous now.
A funny thing happened on the way to attempting to write the blog post today, I reconnected with my creative writing muse who has been absent for this past decade. I believe she was stifled at first by the living of life, and then by the research papers I’d written over the past few years in college. Graduate school had killed her altogether, or so I thought, but to my delight she has resurfaced. This is such a relief especially as I have been able to produce only a very little content for this blog lately.
I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember. Even before I could write I made up stories in my head. Before I was old enough to read myself to sleep with a book I was telling myself fantastic stories I would fall asleep to.
I wrote a lot in my first twenty years. I didn’t care if it was good or bad, there was just something about putting words down on paper that was satisfying. Watching the world in my head evolve in word fashion. I attempted several novels but didn’t finish them. I also wrote really horrible poetry, horrible because I kept on trying to force my words into what I thought a poem should look like. I had more luck with the short story but wasn’t interested in that format because I wanted to be a novelist (even though I couldn’t finish a novel, go figure, right?). The formula that goes into crafting a novel would begin to bore me and I rebelled against it. Which is kind of amusing because I was forced to embrace the formula once I reached college.
So where does that leave me today? I have learned to write the formula but I still despise it. It feels so confining. I want my words to go where they want to go. So I turn to my blog which of course is the place for a person’s self indulgent words. The blog is a way to put ourselves out there with a message, whether that message might be something to inspire and call others to action, or simply a way of saying “I was here.” That’s the wonderful power of the online world, the freedom it gives us to share a little piece of ourselves with numerous unknown others. Of course it has its not so savory side but that’s like the rest of the world and life, isn’t it?
I’m going to start experimenting to get my creativeness going again. As a consequence this blog will be going off track but I guess I’m not too worried about that. I’m just hoping to reconnect with something I thought I had lost.