I hide behind the story that I was the unwanted child, born with sunken chest, a star-shaped cataract in the right eye, my illness-ridden infancy bonding together a broken family, polio attacking my left leg and skewing my body, rendering me slow, awkward, and the last picked for team sports, a misfit, a cast-off, turning humiliation into humility; hiding in the bush as if it was a game of hide and seek, my worth depending on you finding me, on you calling me out.
I hide behind the story that my inadequacies became a gift, made me respect the broken hearted and soul twisted, made me exit my own life, dragging my crippled body in tow, as if it were a shadow I could not shed, and claiming this elevated me above it all, lifted me into the refined air of the upper atmosphere, so that feet were no longer needed, giving me a view of the earth as a blessed home meant only for others.
I hide behind words that flow out like a wild wind through city streets, sweeping aside all the debris, blowing garbage into corners and crevices, so that I can walk clean in my mind, coming to ground without disturbing a thing, without leaving any litter myself, as if a life without tracks would make me worthy of love and a family to whom I belonged, who would celebrate me home as the prodigal child, forgiven and granted all the unearned privileges of those who paid their dues.
But I no longer believe it. My parents dead and I am divorced, living a road warrior life, longing for a wife and a dog at the door while I hide behind the story that I am simply too busy, never home, unwilling to change my life to match my heart’s desire.
I gather these tales into a storybook, sorting them into chapters, editing them into a flow, adding a TOC and an index for good measure so I can put my finger on the right passage at the given moment while, deep inside, secretly smiling at the folly of living a few inches outside of myself, slowly realizing that, to the body I believe I drag behind, I am the shadow, without substance, gone in a flash of light.
Written at the 3-day retreat, Writing Your Way Home, led by Roger Housden at Spirit Rock in Fairfax, CA. This was my reply to the writing prompt: I can hide behind the story that I...
We all have stories to explain our lives and, especially, to make sense of our limitations and accomplishments. These stories can be one line excuses, surface structures like "I can't dance," that ride on a deep structure of limiting beliefs, each with back stories to bolster it with evidence. Roger's prompt is a great exercise in bringing them to light, even exorcising them to an extent.
A great way to use a writing prompt is to write out the prompt and then continue writing, without editing, allowing images and words to appear in free form, in a kind of stream of consciousness, so the inner self can flow out on the page. I have seen many people, who claim they cannot write, assuming their are not writers (as if the practice requires being a professional writer), arguing they have no skill, and still producing beautiful pieces, often raw and honest, that serve both catharsis and liberation. Try writing for 15 minutes using Roger's prompt:
I can hide behind the story that I...
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