Writing as Therapy For Living

Writing as Therapy for Living. That’s where I am in life. Writers write seeking therapeutic aid. Like mountain and rock climbers, we are compelled to do that which calls to us. Scale the insuperable wall. Explore every crevasse. A full measure of self-expression.

Writing often feels like a coverlet to me, a gentle layer of protective warmth that overlays whatever roils around or inside me. It’s a kind of emissary, one I can commission to act on my behalf and in my voice.

One of the things I find hardest about being human and watching others be human is noticing what we give away or have had taken away without resistance. Skills like cursive writing, each exercise a totally unique expression.  Handwritten notes. How much more intimate a gift of love can one give to another but, perhaps, in poetry? Evidently, in the Coding v. Cursive battle, tech wins. Here’s one: the oral tradition of story-telling, a dynamic medium for the conveyance and storage of knowledge, history and ideas.

As discrete, wistful topics in my own psyche, however, I remind myself that these are small scale human issues that I have the luxury of ruminating over. So, while I dream of perpetuating these waning art forms, the control I have over them is limited to my own action.

I find it increasingly urgent to zoom out to the broader vision of how others must, indeed, value the democratic gifts I/we take for granted.

I don’t want to take what democracy affords me for granted. I want to appreciate and live it fully, which means acting to help preserve it.

I want others who care about and will defend what democracy affords to live their lives with the advantages that are present in mine.

So, while my voice and actions supporting the continuity of our democratic republic grow stronger, I increasingly see myself in the Ukrainians who actively seek and die for what our ancestors and contemporaries have protected for us.

A Voice for Ukraine

Artem Chekh, writing in the New York Times,  recently stepped out of the middle of his writing career to serve Ukraine by taking up arms. “Do hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians really want to risk their lives, to be separated from their families in flooded trenches or dry steppes?”

Accreditation: Libkos/Associated Press via New York Times

Tasked with building a combat unit on the outskirts of Bakhmut, Mr. Chekh spent “… five days in that tomb [a flooded trench] waiting for death. Do hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians want to fight? We have children, families, jobs, hobbies, parcels in the mail. I was lying at the bottom of my grave thinking that, even though I had accepted my death long ago, I was still not prepared for this death right now. My wife doesn’t know how to pay utility bills, I didn’t leave her my email and internet banking passwords, and there are parcels in the mail that I didn’t have time to inform her about.

“We also cannot do otherwise, because our enemies are trying once more to take away our right to live on our land. Because they are trying to take away our right to freedom.”

Not everything in life is actionable in ways where that action can be immediately seen or felt. The action we take to insist on this country’s continued support of Ukraine is the same action we must take to defend our own democracy. Every one of their – and our – freedoms depends upon it.

Democracy is a living entity.  No matter how we may wish to believe it is static or its maintenance is others’ responsibility, it can only offer the freedoms we enjoy if we are vigorous in its defense.

Alas, our democracy is a reflection of the imperfection of our humanity. It lives and has its resiliency through our action, and withers and dies in response to our benign (or calculated) neglect.

Isn’t our greatest ‘enemy’ the apathetic one that lives inside? 

Can we not see ourselves in one another? 

Easily noticed is the dissolution of cherished personal skills like hand-writing and story-telling. It’s often not as easy to recognize the consequences of those ideals we cast aside or do not defend when threatened.

We either choose democracy, or we choose selfishness, apathy, anger, isolation, hate and, ultimately, authoritarianism.

How does it feel to see authoritarianism when you look in the mirror? It’s a painful sight for me, and one worth devoting the small skills I have to see that it doesn’t become our reality.

As citizens, we are not enemies, and we have a critical common interest.

Writing as therapy for living may be the expression of a soulful being who sees the world in a better place. Action is what is required.

Use your voice. And your talents.

#UseYourVoice #Democracy #WritingAsTherapyForLiving #Ukraine #NewYorkTimes