Life, Writing, and the Digestive Process

Matthew - Carrboro, North Carolina
Entered on July 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that writing is life, and that life is like the digestive process. When I eat something, I experience it, and thus I gain ammunition for the pen. While some experiences are plentiful, complex and refined, others are strictly there for sustenance, regardless of their hedonistic merit. Others are toxic, whether they are consumed voluntarily or not. In kindergarten, I learned, “you are what you eat.” When it comes to the things I have eaten, the things I have gone through, a small part of them will always be with me.

However, the actual bulk of my experiences tends to only hang around for a day or two. While I churn over these recent happenings in my life, letting them homogenize into a solid idea, they like to remind me of their presence with intermittent gurgles and the occasional cramp. During our brief time together, they upload their respective nutrients and poisons into my being, both of which I must accept as they are often intertwined. But before long, they leave me; passing back into the ether of the universe, never to be absorbed again. And it is because of this fact that I have learned to live life more or less in the moment.

As a teenager, I spent a great deal of time fighting this process. During family mental-health fiascoes I often held on to numerous not-so-terrific experiences. I thought that by containing them I might spare everyone from their being unleashed back into the world. So I clenched, as it were, and did my best to become emotionally constipated. But since the inevitable has its own way of doing things, regardless of how you want them to work out yourself, I quickly came to realize that these experiences were going to come out of me one way or another, and there wasn’t whole lot that I could do to stop it. I guess you could say that I decided to move on.

So then the moment comes for release. Over time I have come to accept this; ‘go with the flow’ has become a headliner in my arsenal of mantras. Now, I let my experiences course right on out of me – at the appropriate time and place, of course, lest I start making a mess of things in public – and it is only then, through letting go of an experience, that I find the ability to write about it. For some, writing is something that is done first thing every morning. Others may be able to write three times in one day and then find themselves unable to successfully write for a week. Me, I write when the spirit catches me.

But regardless of how much or how often I write, and just like life, and just like digestion, (and here is where the comparison really earns its keep) no matter what goes in, what comes out can often end up looking very much like crap. On the upside though, as a writer, or the very least as a living human being, the onus is on me to search the refuse for golden nuggets of corn.