Living a story while losing the plot

I hoped that one day I would write a piece of such heart achingly brilliant prose which would adroitly encapsulate my distorted emotions. I hoped it would help me see clearly through the mists of fear and doubt.

I thought I could write myself into a solution.

I thought if I wrote enough, if I wrote with enough passion. If I used clever plays on words. Wrote short sentences for effect.

Or longer ones. I thought that if I gained enough of a following, if I garnered enough affirmation for the quality of my writing and the wisdom of my words. I thought that then everything would be all right.

But I was writing about nothing. I was a phantom without a cause. I was a writer in need of a following and in search of people to tell me I was good enough.

But it’s not enough.

I sit awkwardly under compliments that I receive and frustratingly hit refresh as no one reads the posts into which I have poured the most of me. I think this is going to be one of those.

For the last two weeks I’ve realised that underneath the labels I wear I feel increasingly hollow inside. Almost as though I have been running on empty for a while but only just spluttering towards a halt.

I assess my life and wonder what it would be like to leave it all behind and walk into another scene.

To pack up my bags and do something completely different. If I were to accept that things haven’t really worked out how I thought they would.

But I never really had any hope for how things would be: I’m not even sure what those things are.

I hoped that would become clear. I hoped I would discover some overriding passion, a cause to fight for. Maybe micro-credit in southAsia, or sanitation in west Africa, or human trafficking on our doorstep. A story that I could jump into head first and would become the defining feature of my life.

Instead I flit from this to that, using skills but not passion. Bringing craft to words but not with purpose. Always dreaming that somewhere down the line I would stumble into the answer. I hid my lack of purpose with elegant prose; I obfuscated with metaphors and alliteration as my vices of choice. I even wrote about writing, the last recourse of one without a cause. 

But life is not like that, very rarely do answers fall out of the sky.

I wanted a story to tell as long as it wasn’t my own. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself in order to abdicate my need to address who I am. I wanted a story I could write myself out of.

I live in the hypocritical paradox of both craving approval and seeking anonymity. I cannot even move towards either of these maleficent ends with any conviction.

I am lost.

In my arrogance I think that the world needs to hear what I have to say. Whatever that might be.

In my weakness I know that no one cares.

And in between I try to find a way of living. In part it is a charade, and in part it is an act of faith. It is the grappling with what to do when I don’t know what to do. It is the search for who I am when that seems out of reach.

It is the longing of a heart that wants to do the right thing and it is the cry of despair at not knowing what that is.

It is the strength to see failure as something I must embrace, but the weakness that fears what this might look like.

And through it all I long for God to intervene, but I do not allow him to get too close; or me too close to him. I think I fear I will let him down: that whatever he asks of me will be too much and I will be too little.

I shy away from committing with everything I have because I worry about the cost of it not working out. I avoid opining about quite how frail I have become in case anyone realises just how true it is.

To strip away any pretence: I do not know what I am doing, and I do not know why I am doing whatever it is that I am doing.

But sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes that is the way things go. When mists surround and fog envelopes and doubt is all you know as true. At least it is somewhere to start. It is an authentic emotion where for so long they have felt manufactured. It is an accurate picture of where I am, and it is from where I am that I must start. 

I know this is not a place to linger, or a place where I can find solace. It is not a refuge but a launch pad. On to what, I do not know.

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3 thoughts on “Living a story while losing the plot

  1. I can really empathise with the thoughts and feelings you express here, Danny. It takes courage to write with such naked honesty. This post and your “A manifesto and what I am not” I thought were both great in that they both made me go “Yep, know what that feels like…”.

    The great thing about writing like this is that it helps us realise we are not alone. In the play/film “Shadowlands”, there is the line “We read to know we’re not alone”. In order for that to be the case someone has to be expressing themselves honestly. Although we each have our unique struggles, there is much common ground between us, but without honest expression how will we ever find it?

    There are often times in life where we are surrounded in the fog it seems. Partly, I think this increases our humility in that we appreciate that actually we know very little and have very little control over our lives. It is scary, but I think to find any sort of peace we need to accept that much of life is a mystery.

    As for weakness, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12 “when I am weak, then I am strong”. I can’t say I really understand that reality in my own life (more mystery there), but I trust that it is true.

    Anyway, I hope that what I say is encouraging for you.

    God bless,

    Iain

  2. as one who majored in government in university, i’ve found your previous posts quite fascinating.

    and this post eerily echoes questions i’ve asked about gifts and passions. hoping you’ll continue find contentment in that you are a skilled writer, regardless of the scope of the recognition of your gift. the final paragraphs are especially spot-on, so much so it’s scary:

    “It is the longing of a heart that wants to do the right thing and it is the cry of despair at not knowing what that is.

    It is the strength to see failure as something I must embrace, but the weakness that fears what this might look like.

    And through it all I long for God to intervene, but I do not allow him to get too close; or me too close to him. I think I fear I will let him down: that whatever he asks of me will be too much and I will be too little.

    I shy away from committing with everything I have because I worry about the cost of it not working out. I avoid opining about quite how frail I have become in case anyone realises just how true it is.”

    so what if it’s true that we’re much frailer than we’d like? know that you’re in good company and that truly in our weakness, God loves to show off his strength.

    finally… have you heard of a little missions program called “the world race”? i happen to be an alumna of it and i think maybe it would be a great help to you in living a better story. if you must flit from one thing to another, the world race would be a great outlet to do so. http://worldrace.org

  3. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I think you’ll find you have much in common with Robert Frost.

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