Why do I write? This is a question that has been asked of me multiple times…and one that I have only recently begun to ask myself. This life is a busy one, between my psychiatry practice and my children. My desire to write certainly adds to my “to-do” list on a day to day basis, and yet now I can’t imagine my life without writing. It is a part of me, like my breath and my pulse and my fingerprint.
Certainly writing allows me to fulfill a creative need within myself. It allows me self expression, to tell a story that perhaps would inspire or help another person. Writing allows me to digest and make sense of my own experiences, filter through all that presents in the day to day busyness of life. Through my fingertips, I understand what feels important and what doesn’t. What is worthy of writing about? What do I choose not to write? What feels necessary to write about is a sign of where my consciousness needs to rest for awhile, what I need to process just a little more.
More recently though, I have become aware of deeper needs that my writing meets. The first is a need for permanence. I have become acutely aware of the passing of time. Perhaps it is the changing of the seasons, albeit slight here in Southern California. The leaves become crisp and fall, and the temperature cools off in the early morning and evenings. My children grow taller. As I try to carry my daughter from the bed in the morning, her dangling legs almost meet the floor. I realize everyday that soon I will no longer be able to lift her. They need me a little less, in different ways than just six months or a year ago.
Writing books or blog posts or articles allows me to freeze moments in time for just a little longer. I can read journal entries from a year ago and see my life through the lens of then and now. More than that, I realize that one day I will be gone, and I don’t know when that day will be. The unpredictability of health and life has never been more apparent. My written words won’t die. My children can read them one day and feel my stories, my beliefs, my values. My grand children and great grandchildren can know who I am through the direct experience of my words. Perhaps this is a narcissistic need of sorts, but I can’t deny that it fuels me.
And the second need that calls me these days is that of connection. Writing allows me to connect. As a bit of an introvert, I can’t always openly and spontaneously share my thoughts and feelings about various topics and ideas. Writing allows people in my life to know me, and allows me to feel connected to the people in my life. Writing allows me to touch people whom I have never even met. Writing allows me to serve as a transitional object for my patients who might need reminders of our relationship in between sessions. Writing allows me to connect with people from my past, and opens up new dialogues and points of contact that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
What I love is how it finally feels like all of these different parts of me, these different identities–psychiatrist, wife, mother, daughter, student, writer–are all starting to merge. I am integrating in a way that I can occupy all of those roles all at once, and feel transparent and honest. Writing has been such a critical part of that journey for me…and has also allowed me to step outside of myself and document that journey with curiosity and compassion.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the “why’s” in your life. Why do you do the things you do? Do you feel connected to the deeper intentions behind your choices, interests, work?
With gratitude, Monisha