A post from my other, non-project-based blog about the feel-good warmth of burning two decades worth of writing.
Talk about catharsis, and what a difference a year makes.
Two decades of writing + two hours of fire = clearing the way for new things.
When I say I’ve written nearly my entire life, I mean it. I like to joke that I peaked at 8, when I wrote a novel (999 pages typed on an old MS DOS word file) about space travel (including a really elementary stab at string theory.) I wrote heavily through my teens, and by the time I was in my early 20s I had stacks and stacks of manuscripts… that no one would ever see. I always told myself I’d go back to those projects and make something of them but I never did. I hauled that stack of paper around for a decade to every shitty apartment and house I’ve lived in. My instincts told me I would never go back - a lot of what was held on those pages was too painful to relive. I’ve culled bits and pieces over the years, what remained was a thick skeleton, the bones of the better part of nearly 20 years.
Fast forward. A year ago, my marriage ended and I hauled those stacks once more to a new house, one that my son and I have made home over the past few months. It has been hard, but also beautiful. In that time span, I fell in love with my best friend,and we have purchased our first home together - one that will be home for our four kids. One that will be our home for the next decade or so as our children finish school.
It hit me. I didn’t want to move those stacks anymore. I read through some of it and was struck by all the old pain. Why am I hauling this around? Like carrying a casket. Everything I could ever hope to gain from that, everything I’d want to keep already resides in my bones and marrow. It’s dead weight, and holding me back from moving on to other projects.
My fiance and I hauled the paper to the lake with us this past weekend, and there I proceeded to burn every page. I thought maybe when I put the first piece on the fire I’d have some huge wave of regret, but instead I was encouraged to burn the whole lot. Now it’s gone, it’s ash, to be blown away across the prairie. A fitting end to words written for the most part in juxtaposition to the fields and roads I grew up on.
So a toast. There is beauty in the old, even the pain, but there comes a point where the best thing you can do is set that shit on fire. Much like I’d want my own wake to be, it was a joyous thing. What’s dead is dead, what’s gone is gone, so let it go and move to the next step - the warmth of the ephemeral, it will fuel you beyond what holding on to that old thing ever could.