On Being a Blocked Writer

by P. Braithwaite

I am currently experiencing writer’s blog. I pretend to subscribe to the rule of thought that writer’s block is a myth, but when it hits you – it sucks. Nothing comes out right, and the desire to write (which is often NOT where it needs to be when a writer is unblocked) is nonexistent.

SO yeah, I have writer’s block. I’m engaged in the process of writing at the moment, but it’s true. Blockages happen. Writer’s block happens. Mental blocks and barriers form like sediment. They clog our ability to believe we can achieve.

Blockages, however, are not the truth.

I’m thinking of running a Tough Mudder in October. For those who don’t know, a Tough Mudder is a bizarre 13 mile obstacle course complete with electric shock, freezing ice pools, and (of course) mud. Before I do that, I’ll be doing a Color Run (a three-mile race where people throw paint at you), and, prior to either of those events, I’ve applied to engage in a 10 day silent meditation retreat where I won’t even be able to write (keep your fingers crossed for me, I haven’t heard back yet). All of these things scare me for various reasons, which begs the question: Why do we push our limits? Why do we power through the blocks that encase our minds?

While I’m pooping my own personal pants, I should acknowledge that I’m signing up for controlled forms of adventure. My achievements are pretty tame, and personal stakes are quite low. Lives don’t hang in the balance if I don’t finish my Tough Mudder, and The Color Run has been dubbbed “the happiest race on earth,” but real people do remarkable things everyday: How do working parents operate unceasingly with little/no energy? How did shell-shocked Boston marathoners cross a finish line and keep running to donate blood to ailing victims? How do people climb Mount Everest? How do soldiers survive during war? How do prisoners in Gitmo find the strength to refuse food?

How do we push past things that scare the crap out of us? How do we reach for the seemingly impossible?

In my small corner of experience, it seems that the body and the mind are complicated bed-fellows. While they help us navigate the world, often they become impediments to our limitless potential. Our bodies and minds tend to define us: I’m too short, I can’t run, I need to eat otherwise I get evil.

We think our bodies and our minds are all we are.

I beg to differ. Despite the tangible nature of our bodies, there is something inside of us constantly aiming to test those boundaries. For me, there is an inner-knowing that my mind (convinced that it cannot write and preoccupied with goldfish crackers) is not the truth of my experience. My body, committed to having tendonitis and in the midst of another headache, is not the sole decider of my actions. When I am able to push my mind and body beyond their fixed points, I create space for an expanded definition of who I am. I create space for potential. And when I can keep reaching keep striving, I’d like to think that’s when I’m evolving. When I’m pushing past my inner-skeptic to achieve what’s in my heart — that’s when I’m truly at my best, and when we can step out of our own way — for a race, a gym session, or a simple blog post — we allow God and the Universe to work on our behalf.

And that’s when we discover we’re alive…

How are you pushing beyond barriers today?