The question nags, and the answer delays. In fact, it pulls one of those annoying Socratic moves on me: Why do you think that? And I pause, a dim light growing brighter within.
Ahhhh, here it is. I think I'm a better person, not for the writing itself, but for the way writing trains my eyes to see in vivid detail the things I normally rush past. Writing slows me down - my body, my schedule, my thoughts, my heart - and focuses me. At first, my need to see life in order to write drives me, as if to jumpstart my engine. But then, my newfound vision gradually takes over, until my writing is merely an overflow of a life lived more fully alive. This is the thing I miss, the ache that begs the question in the first place.
Have I lost my ability to see in this season of setting aside my writing?
In all fairness, the answer is yes - and no. It's not that my eyesight is lost, as much as it's grown a bit flabby. Lazy. Distracted. Thankfully, the year of disciplined writing was much more than an academic practice. It was the year of disciplined gratitude. What opened my eyes and fueled my writing was the practice of gratitude, and this has lived on inside me, even as my writing life is on sabbatical. I simply didn't realize how much the two are linked. How easy it is to drift away from the intentional way of seeing the world in daily living that slows my pace, beckons me to kneel down to a child's view of life in perpetual wonder and trust. No, I haven't lost it; I just have to work harder at seeing. Thankfully each day, with or without writing, the gift of sight is mine for the taking - if I so choose.