Discover more from Four In the Morning
On Shame & Sam in the Present Tense
An exercise in writing for discovery
Note to the reader: So much of my writing has been for the purpose of dissemination. Writing books to meet deadlines and get advances to pay bills. Writing sermons to disseminate information to a church full of people. Writing emails (dag, I've got 1,000 I need to respond to) for no reason in particular. They don’t move the conversation forward, they only keep me standing still. Writing for dissemination has been a duty that has choked the life out of seeds sown on what I thought was good soil.
This post won’t be that. I’m trying something new.
I’ve learned the beauty of writing for discovery. I’ve recently been put on to a whole new world of writing where the goal isn’t dissemination for anyone else as much as personal discovery. Much of my discoveries will be for me and only me. However, I figured I’d share this first one with you. This past week, I wept as I wrote. It was a new experience for me and felt special. Spiritual. Who would've thought writing would be the shovel that dug up the tears I thought I buried?
So I’m sharing it with you, even though I didn’t set out to.
Write about an emotion: Shame
Shame. So filthy yet so comfortable. Repulsive yet strangely comforting.
Shame is realizing you've peed in the bed as a kid. It's a mid-stream realization. The warmth is strangely comforting and soothing and in some ways lends itself to remaining still. But then the smell of that shame eventually finds its way to your nose. The warmth that clothed you in comfort begins to cool off and chill, and now there's nothing pleasurable or comforting about it. Only a resolve to hide and never mention it to anyone. A strange belief that silence is an eraser that wipes away past acts of indiscretion.
But shame is resilient, it doesn't leave so easily. Whenever you change your bed sheets and look at that spot in the mattress you're reminded about what you did. How it smelled. The despair you felt.
But, it's also a reminder of a present strength. This “strength” is seen in the resolve the never mention it. To merely act like it never happened even though you'll always know it did.
Write about someone you care about: Sam (3/17/1983 - 4/14/2015)
I thought about writing for Ava or Shawndra but that was too easy. They're still in the land of the earth-living. Using the present tense when talking about them isn't difficult. It's natural.
But with you, it's harder.
I find myself using the past tense as if your death, here on this earth, was some sort of final event.
But it's not.
So I'll use the present tense when I write about someone I care for, because I care for you and about you. I never told you as much told me. I never tell you as much as you tell me (present tense John! Present tense). All I know is that your words don’t travel and make their way down to me. I wonder if mine make their way up to you.
Do you still hear me? Do you see me? Do you know what's going on in my life right now? Are you proud of me? I hope you are. I've worked hard to make you proud, but I've done a lot of shameful things as well. I know you couldn't see them when you were here.
I wonder if you see them now. Does that change your opinion of me? I love you. I wish I could expound on that right now, but I'm crying and I haven't in a long time.
It feels warm. Strangely comforting, but shameful.
Just a little bit.
Try it out and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading Four In the Morning! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.