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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Are You Willing to See?

By Rosanne Bane

tread_20060524The renowned Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa said “To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.”

The desire to avert our eyes, to not see, is at the heart of all resistance.  It’s certainly at the heart of what I’m wrestling with now.

On June 20, my mom called. “I have very bad news,” she warned me. “Michael committed suicide this morning.” It was all she could say before she broke down and needed to get off the phone. My nephew Michael, my oldest brother’s middle child, was 26 and, among other things, a father, a laborer, a poet, a wounded man.

I went back to my hometown for the funeral. Coincidentally, Michael Jackson died the day we buried our Michael. Since then, life has been mostly surreal with scattered bouts of normalcy. When I got home, I had Sunday to pull myself together, worked Monday and took the rest of the week off for our previously planned family stay-cation (in town vacation) that culminated in our Fourth of July celebration.

For those two weeks, I reduced my commitments to Process and Product Time to reflect the time I was out of the office, but I still managed to post a blog both weeks. So it wasn’t until this week that I recognized how resistant I am to my writing.

I’ve talked about Michael with many people, but this is the first time I’ve written about him. Writing is harder than talking, maybe because writing is where I try to make sense of things, and there is no making sense of this.

I suppose I could just give myself a pass on writing for another week, but I know I need to get back to my writing. There may be no making sense of Michael’s death, but I do have to make sense of my responses to it. 

I’ve resisted writing all week – I’m still honoring commitments, but I’m marking time doing support stuff, not drafting, revising or going deep with my writing. I can understand not being ready to write about Michael, but why resist my fiction or my nonfiction that’s not about him?

Because any writing requires that I not avert my eyes. Any writing demands that I see, and I’m spending an awful lot of energy right now trying to not see.

I’ll write more next week about this idea not seeing, I promise, but in the meantime, what are you trying to not see? What resistance has been born of your desire to avert your eyes?

Are you willing to look anyway, to wrench your eyes back to what you want to not see? It’s hard, but it’s worth it. It’s life. It’s making art out of your life.

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9 Comments on “Are You Willing to See?”

  1. Lisa P. July 14, 2009 at 3:28 am #

    Writing in the wake of such life changing events is always about making meaning but, in my experience, attempting to make meaning of such a meaningless loss can be paralyzing. It helps me to remember that sometimes the meaning must be drawn out of our reactions to such events rather than to the event itself. When no meaning can be drawn from a loss, sometimes it can be drawn from our efforts to respond, to reorient, to rebuild in the new world that we have been forced to inhabit.

    Thank you for writing about your loss. Best wishes to you and to all of your family.

    In honor of Michael and Annie and Chris, and far too many others,


    • rosannebane July 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

      Thanks Lisa. It sounds like you’ve been through something similar, so my best wishes to you and yours, too.


  2. Julia F. July 12, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are left with all the haunting “why” questions but rest assured, Michael is at peace now. Perhaps all the hoopla over Michael Jackson’s death is a way of acknowledging and focusing on all those things we do not understand and cannot control regarding others we love so much. Thank you for this powerful posting. Just naming what you are experiencing with your writing and your heart, helps the healing process and as you heal, your gift of writing and encouraging others to write will have more depth than ever before. Take care of yourself during these hours and days of healing.
    Blessings to you and your family, Julie


  3. Barbara July 11, 2009 at 1:59 am #

    Yes, powerful post. My deep condolences to you and your family.


  4. yobi July 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm #

    Wow is right! Rosanne – resistance to seeing is such an important concept in dealing with finances as well, particularly since credit cards encourage us not to see, by making their statements difficult to read and digest, among other things. So sorry for your loss and hope you will have more good days than bad in the coming months.



  5. Troyann July 10, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Dear Rosanne, I am so sorry about your nephew. I can not image what I would do if I lost one of my precious nephews. Cry a lot, I’m sure! Angels to you and your family…Troyann


  6. Jacque July 10, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    Wow, Rosanne. What a powerful post. Thank you for writing this.


    • rosannebane July 11, 2009 at 4:12 am #

      Thank you Jacque, Troyann, Yobi, Barbara and everyone else who’s sent an email or note.


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