The past month or so has been stuffed to the gills with packing, moving and related activities. Although it was all necessary and I even managed to cram in a lot of fun events and a little relaxation, it’s largely taken me away from writing. I have felt drained mentally and emotionally for quite a while now. The more self-awareness I gain, the more I come to understand my particular brand of introversion and the ways my energy fluctuates and is spent and restored. I have been running on dangerously low reserves for weeks. Changes (and the constant mental action they bring) especially tend to wipe me out and quickly have me feeling like only part of myself. But I return now, if not fully restored, at least refocused and ready to create and share new content.
My absence from writing brought to mind the ways that we miss the things we enjoy when we’re taking time away. When circumstances prevent us from spending time with whatever it is that brings us joy or (as in my case) our time or energy is needed elsewhere for a while, what happens to our fondness for that thing?
I remember watching Disney’s version of Robin Hood as a child and first considering the line, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” as said to Maid Marian. She’s wondering whether Robin will remember her and still care about her after being separated such a long time. I thought about what that meant. Time away from something (or, in her case, someone) that we care about makes that thing dearer to us. Makes us appreciate it even more. However, Marian offers the counterpoint that absence can also make the heart forgetful. That time away from something we care about makes us forget or care less about that thing. I find both ideas to be true.
Writing is something I know I will always love. Most of the time it’s one of my very favorite activities. I enjoy the craft of it and the persistence and preciseness that it brings out in me. But sometimes I take a break. Sometimes I don’t make the time. Sometimes creating something out of nothing seems too overwhelming. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I just don’t. But no matter what, when I am ready to return, I am as in love with the process as I have ever been. Often, I have generated a backlog of thoughts and ideas so dense by that time that I can’t help but start to write them down.
But what about forgetfulness? I hope the day never comes that I take a break from writing and return to find I no longer enjoy it as I once did. Or that I never return at all. Yet there have certainly been times in my life when things have broken that way. Pastimes, relationships, habits, beliefs have all slipped away into the past unmissed and unremembered, except by provocation.
We outgrow things that no longer need to be part of our lives and, similarly, if we don’t have enough desire to keep the things we want in our lives, they likely don’t belong there. Time does have a way of erasing things, but I like to believe that the things we want to hold onto, we will never lose. That sounds lovely, and it can be, but sometimes the things we choose to hold onto are the things that hold us back. Memories that hurt us. People that break us down. Habits that undercut us. Why don’t we let go of those things? Bitterness, sometimes. Guilt, often. Fear, always. Lack of control is a prickly thing to come to terms with.
Control might make things easier, in some cases. Those attempting to give up a habit or compulsion would probably like to have absence make the heart grow forgetful. But those moving away from family or friends would likely hope absence would make the heart grow fonder. I’m not sure we get to choose which we end up with in a given situation. But maybe a simple awareness of our wants and needs helps us to understand why some things fall away and others grip us forever.