He Who Hesitates is Me
Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we,
Light half-believers of our casual creeds,
Who never deeply felt, nor clearly will’d,
Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill’d;
For whom each year we see
Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
Who hesitate and falter life away,
And lose to-morrow the ground won to-day
Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?
Matthew Arnold, The Scholar Gypsy, 1853
I used to love to write; not because I believe I have any more wisdom to impart than anyone else or am so confident in what I have to say that I feel it must be committed to paper. In fact, I adhere to Darwin’s belief that, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge; it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” However, I believe writing online is the practice of allowing a piece of you to fall onto the page for all to see. It is a way of exposing yourself to others and being willing to accept their criticism. There is a strong need to expel thoughts as printed words and to invite any ensuing discussion. What begins as a kernel of an idea ferments internally and eventually decants through the keyboard onto the page.
However, I feel that I have been reduced to a frozen mute since Lisa’s death. Where once ideas for discussion poured out of me, and I reveled in researching them in hopes of producing a cogent argument, now I find myself devoid of concepts. My mind utterly wanders, day after day. I have had a waterproof notepad in my shower since June (a gift from my children because so many of my ideas originated under the scalding water), and I still have nothing written on it. This paralysis is disorienting. I want to write, but there are no strong theories upon which to expand.
I recognize the irony of writing a blog post about having nothing to write! But it is the process of thought rather than the finished product that has me worried. I hesitate now where I once forged ahead. That which I held dear has been taken from me. It is as if my confidence died with Lisa. Is this an aftershock of grief? Is this normal? Will it subside in time? I don’t know the answer to these questions, and it preys on my soul. No amount of concentration yields fertile ground upon which I can plant a question or thought in hopes of harvesting an argument. If he who hesitates is lost, then I need a map because all I do is mentally wander every day.
I understand this is not the most monumental problem to have. I have a roof over my head and a full belly. My children are safe and provided for, and we no longer cry over Lisa’s suffering, but this lack of confidence is dampening my efforts to establish a new life. Thank God for my children! They are the anchor holding this rudderless ship in port. Without them, I don’t want to think where I’d be. Where I am lost, they are home. It is simply this lack of confidence, this new hesitation which is hamstringing forward progress.
I have no conclusion to this post. I have no answers. It just feels good to put it down on paper.