As I lie in the dark at 1:30am, my mind is pacing through things slowly, and cyclically, the way only night-time thinking can be. A little frantic but not terribly clear. Even there, though, I know the trouble is that I have not written in days.

I keep getting this image of a spruce tree, and each time I make my way through another layer of thought, a layer of the tree unfolds itself, like an evergreen set of nesting dolls. There is comfort in that.

But what gives me more peace and the bloom of golden hope in those wee hours is the thought that in the morning, I will be able to sit down and write. I breath deep and dropped right into the softness of sleep.

I know that when I wake and put pen to paper, I will be able to write my way through what I am thinking and feeling, that clarity and, thus, peace will come as I let words peel forth from my hand, verbal versions of my emotional nesting dolls.

When I write, it’s like a tight spiral of all the things I’ve thought and felt and seen begins to uncoil in my chest. I feel the frayed edges of my nerves begin to knit back together. My mind returns to that soft focus that lets me experience but not always engage. I find peace.

At times, I imagine I am in a lifeboat. I’m floating on the sea, sometimes choppy and stormy and sometimes so still that I will not get much of anywhere. When I don’t write, I feel as if I am flailing at the water with an oar – a task which is futile in both storms and calm. But as words pour forth, I find that balance of the gentle oar into water, pull, and release. I am doing what I can do.

Just paddle. Steadily. One stroke at a time.

Then, I find that these nesting dolls of tension and striving and stress turn into quiet, gentle, intricate objects of beauty and grace, tucked carefully into this gift of my life.

The boat ride is only gorgeous then.

How do you feel when you don’t write? How do you feel when you do?