The Untold Story Within You

Maya Angelou says “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story within you.”  I wonder how many of us feel this way.  The time to write never seems to come easily, and so many other things come at me, demanding my time and attention.  I have come to realize in my mid-life that time to write is so important, I must fight for it.  Otherwise, I know full well how deeply it can get buried under the silt of years and the dust of other things.  At the end of my life, this would be my deepest regret; and putting it this way, agony doesn’t seem like too strong a word.

Of course we all have lives outside of writing–jobs to go to and people we love and want to spend time with.  I get it.  You might be saying what I tell myself all the time:  “I can’t just write anytime I feel like it.”   But if we don’t fight to at least write sometimes and regularly, years can go by before we’ve been able to write anything at all of substance.  I know from experience this can have a hugely detrimental effect.  It may take the form of restlessness, or a vague sense of emptiness, chronic irritability, anxiety, or even depression.  Whatever form it takes, these symptoms can be a calibrator of sorts, perhaps informing us that something needs balancing within.  It may be the voice of your soul calling, to come home, to listen to your innermost being.

Returning to the discussion of writing in particular, Madeleine L’Engle put it this way:  “You must write the book that wants to be written.”  She makes this statement as if a book has a life of its own and decides that it must be written, rather than the other way around; and in some ways, I am mystical enough to believe that.  It feels that way sometimes: I am having labor pains and there is this baby that must be born, if only I would allow it.

Metaphysical discussion aside, I think we are all restless to accomplish something that gives us purpose and meaning in life.  I think it has, at its core, a compelling desire to simply be who we really are, and create something that is an outward testament to that which gives us life.  There are so many roles we play, many of which are out of necessity, of course.  But the opportunity to take time and uncover ourselves at the very heart of who we are and what makes us truly feel alive, that is another thing entirely.

And so this deep business of our soul – this conversation about who we are and what we want from life, including what we want to create and express, is a discussion we must first have with ourselves before we can truly share it with anyone else.  We may get valuable input from others, but at the end of the day, this calling we have is cemented in the silence of coming home to ourselves.  It is here that we listen to whatever “untold story” there may be inside of us and learn what it is that needs to be said.  If we ignore having that conversation (and I have for a time), an agony does come:  the pain and grief of not being true to one’s self.

Image Source:

Artist: Pith the Explorer.

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