Here I sit on Day 1 of the March Slice of Life Challenge: once again, I have committed to try to write & publish every day for the next 31 days. I’ve done this for a few years now, so I know some of the ups & downs, but this year brings a new challenge beyond writing: I need to bite my tongue.
Biting my tongue does not sound like fun. I pause to consider this. Literally biting your tongue hurts a lot – there’s a moment of disbelief, followed by the warm taste of blood, and then the pain that lingers while your tongue heals. Worse, once you’ve bitten your tongue, you often bite it again, its unexpectedly swollen shape catching in your teeth over and over. No wonder I do not want to write for a month if I need to bite my tongue. That sounds awful.
**Some minutes pass in which I fruitlessly attempt to remember times when I have or haven’t bitten my tongue, literally or figuratively. I remember nothing despite knowing that I have done these things.
In an attempt to re-frame, I have decided that I will not, in fact, bite my tongue this month. Instead, I will watch my words. This catches my imagination. Here I sit, writing about this moment in my life, and I can literally watch my words come into being. Look, there’s another one. And another! In class, I tell students to keep their pencil moving or to keep their fingers typing. Watch those words multiply! Look at how much you’ve written!
Now I imagine my words multiplying, then beginning to peel off the page. They grow bigger and bigger, each word breaking free and flying around the room until the room can no longer contain them and they slip through cracks and imagined spaces and – there! – off they go, out into the world until I am no longer able to watch them, no longer able to see who they meet or how they meet them. I feel lighter already. Yes, watching words is doable.
Friends, I may not make it through all 31 days, but I might, and I won’t if I don’t start. I will not be able to write the whole truth all of the time, but I will be able to write a slice of the truth. I will be able to capture a moment – maybe a moment like this one that exists only because I have embraced the uncertainty that comes from watching my words grow. This month, I will share those words with you, acknowledging from the beginning that each slice of life is only one part of a sometimes nearly invisible whole.
I will not bite my tongue, but I will watch my words. That seems realistic. Watch with me?