The Comfortable Contradiction
by Larissa Schwartz
I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC.
A dog-lover. Who lives with a cat.
So patient. And restless.
A traveler. A total homebody.
Don’t-touch-it-hot-obsidian. Freshwater ocean.
Commuting my sentence. Finishing yours.
Frozen solid. Floating on blue.
Snow-fall quiet. Deafening mind chatter.
I’m always wrong. And I’m finally right.
Jena and I sat in her kitchen last week chatting about more things than any two people should stuff into a 15-minute visit. I was jet-lagged from the seven hour time difference. I’d just gotten back from Greece.
While we were talking, she asked if I wanted to write something for The Roar Sessions. Of course the first thoughts that popped into my head were uh, no, I’m not a writer and I’m not looking for my roar. Because of those first thoughts, I said yes.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been facing down things that make me uncomfortable. Saying what I need to without feeling guilty, ignoring the imposter syndrome, paying attention to gut feelings and going with them, saying yes instead of no – to the right things. Somewhere in there, I also started getting kind of excited about being a perfectly comfortable walking contradiction.
But the blog post. I agonized about it all week. I dodged it with jet lag and a design project and editing through 798 photos from the 19 days of eat-pray-love time away. Time that forced me to change up the day-to-day and allowed me to take all those photos. Today calling myself a photographer – even though the imposter would have me say otherwise – feels fine.
By 6 o’clock on Saturday the deadline and the commitment loomed.
I stood at the countertop in my kitchen, laptop in front of me, set the timer on my device for 10 minutes (sorry I can’t call it a phone anymore) and typed out what came to me. Just like Jena teaches in her writing groups.
I didn’t edit what I wrote, though I’ll admit to making sure there weren’t any red squiggly lines on the screen. I fired the email off and waited. I’d already done the-inhale-then-exhale thing that happens when I’m about to do – or have just finished doing – something uncomfortable and necessary and especially something that makes me question, second guess, avoid and criticize.
The phone rang. I think she said, “Holy shit, you can write.” I can’t remember exactly. I just know I was buzzing because of how the words landed on the screen during the 10 minutes when I intentionally stood in the discomfort and wrote.
After a few seconds she said, go find Walt Whitman’s poem Song of Myself, there’s a section in it you have to read. And like any master, Jena had the prompt ready and waiting:
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Larissa is a creative technologist which is what happens when geekdom meets artist. She’s a user experience design professional, a photographer and a perfecter of the digital walkabout. After living in Boston, Buffalo, Santa Barbara, Connecticut and Hawaii, she has real mail delivered to her house in Western Massachusetts.
Learn more about The Roar Sessions and read previous guest posts here.