Blank-Screen Moments

I sit and stare at the bright, white, blank screen. Two minutes. Five minutes.

Write a sentence. Erase it.

Realize it's 12pm. Get up and get myself a bowl of yogurt and granola (mmmhmm good).

Sit down. Finish the yogurt. Get up and fetch myself a picturesque little mason jar of water (how quaint).

Sit down again. Curses.

The screen is still white.

What? The words didn't write themselves by now?

Not fair.

It's one of those blank screen moments in life. Those moments where you feel like you're wading through sludge, through miles of a white, wordless fog, where the absence of logical, organized thought taunts you. You're trapped in a never ending cycle of waiting, where there is nothing to do except wait...and yet waiting still feels so irrational. Waiting for what? For the words to write themselves? For Life to suddenly streak across your blanched surroundings with a flourish of trumpets and a shower of fairy dust? For the faded black scribbles to make sense?

Sometimes, our landscapes feel so dull, boring, and barren. Not barren as in dead - to be sure, there is plenty of wild grass and untrimmed foliage to fill the space - but for now, the world still feels barren...flat and lifeless. The grass has not been tended, no beautiful beds of soil have been fertilized, no forests have been planted, no mountains have been built, no flowers have been tenderly brushed across the landscape to caress it with their warm splashes of color. Not yet, anyway.


You can close your eyes and imagine what your landscape will look like, dream up the treasures your world will encompass, but  to what extent can our dreams really influence reality?

You can take those dreams and awaken them, try to re-create with your brush the flowers and trees and mountains you imagined, but to what extend can you create your landscape?
Is the landscape to be created? Or is it to be discovered?

Do we make it happen? Or do we wait, anxiously, on the edge of our seat, for the mountains and trees and flowers to suddenly spring up out of nowhere? 

Do we truly explore? Or do we wander aimlessly, glancing over our shoulder every couple yards, hoping that a new world will have sprouted while we weren't looking?


Perhaps the landscape something that is being constantly created. Even when we are distracted by looking for what we hope to see, feeling as though nothing is changing, our hearts are being prepared and our world is slowly being shifted.

In truth, I am exploring the landscape that is being created for me. I am being guided along the path that has been laid out for me, and experiencing all the surprises along the way. Even if the flowers I am hoping to see never color my landscape, the beauty that will capture my heart will, one day, take my breath away with it's glorious sunrise.

One day. Hopefully soon.

This I must believe, or else drive myself insane, despairing over what I fear I might lose.

So I do believe. And I will wait.



Almost a year ago now, I wrote a post about how much I despise being alone. The dark tendrils of thought that would follow me into my solitude, wrapping their sinister black fingers around my ankles and wrists and throat until I couldn't move or breathe - the smoke that distorted and clouded my mirror so that all I could see of myself was a deformed silhouette of who I really was - that fog of black smokey tendrils was my greatest fear. I could feel myself beginning to choke every time I was alone, and rushing to find some sort of companionship to avoid going completely insane.

There has been a lot of healing this past year. And a lot of learning. You learn new things, venture to new territory, new hurts come, and healing commences again.

And then you look back. Over your shoulder. Over the landscape you have carved out of the barren earth you started with. You look at the peaceful, dandelion-covered hills, full of wishes. You scowl at the scraggly cliff-faces that still taunt you and remind you of how they bruised your shins and your heart. All the rivers written by tears and the trees inspired by dreams. The landscape looks nothing like what you started with.

And you realize how much you have changed.

The familiarity that comes with knowing yourself, the comfort you find in being able to predict your own actions, fades into a fear of the unknown.


This is the question we unknowingly spend so much time trying to answer. We don't think it consciously, but our entire lives we are testing ourselves, learning, adjusting our sails, re-assessing our surroundings, and moving on. We are exploring our hearts - foreign territory, unfamiliar landscape.

You would think our own hearts should feel like home. Our heart should be a place where the lights glow through the windows and through the darkness, warming us like a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa, tucking us in at night to tell us stories about who we are and who we are to become, leading us forward, and inspiring us with a sense of adventurous security.

But that's not always how it works....

Our hearts are scary places sometimes. We discover things about ourselves we never thought we'd see carved into our landscape, and uncover wounds we thought we'd mended and find them still pulsing and bleeding. In an effort to heal the cuts and burns, we grope at them with our dirty hands, only succeeding in filling them with infection. Somehow, we know that a cup of hot cocoa would make all the shadows disappear, but the warm lights and soft blankets are miles away, and the bedtime stories are eons ago. We have to fight the real dragons now.

A year at college is like fighting dragons - battling the dragons in your own heart, and discovering the dragons in others. Fire rages and carves out unfamiliar trenches, covers the hills full of wishes in scorch marks, and burns down the trees built by dreams.

We are left with a heart that does not look like ours.

We are left looking in the mirror and wondering who it is that is staring back at us.

But even in the midst of fighting dragons, there are those things that remind us of who we are. Those places, those people, the inside jokes, the magic that brings us back to childhood, back to fields full of dandelions...

And yet we cannot go back. We must press onward.

Learning to love who you are becoming is not easy. Learning to love that slightly unfamiliar face you see in the mirror, being willing to venture out into that strange landscape...to learn its geography all over again, even in the face of change...is not easy. And choosing to form that person you are becoming in a purposeful way - containing those fires, healing those wounds, planting new fields of flowers...that is even more difficult.

In the midst of all of this, across the battlefield, remembering the bedtime stories and the warm blankets, remembering the flowers and the wishes and dreams, and hanging on to them, becomes a vital part of moving forward. It is the memories of light and joy which strengthen us. If we think we've lost that light, that joy, then we won't even bother looking for it behind the shadows and the scorch marks. Memories of the magic which fascinated us as children helps us remember how to see it, even now that we have grown. Memories of who we were help us find who we are.

Our landscape will continue to shift and change, and we will continue to explore it. But why are we exploring? What are we looking for? Exploring must be purposeful - without a purpose, exploring becomes wandering, and our lives become aimless. Without a purpose, we plod onward, never truly understanding ourselves, never truly seeing the beautiful landscape we are sculpting. We must remember, as we traverse the tender crevices of our hearts, how important it is to be searching. Always searching. Searching for who we are...and for who we are becoming...and for the light that guides us home.