For many years after becoming a doctor I was too caught up in my workaholism to pay attention to myself or to my deepest urges. In the rare moments I permitted any stillness, I noted a small fluttering at the pit of my belly, a barely perceptible disturbance. The faint whisper of a word would sound in my head: writing. At first I could not say whether it was heartburn or inspiration. The more I listened, the louder the message became: I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.
The gods, we are taught, created humankind in their own image. Everyone has an urge to create. Its expression may flow through many channels: through writing, art or music or through the inventiveness of work or in any number of ways unique to all of us, whether it be cooking, gardening, or the art of social discourse. The point is to honour the urge. To do so is healing for ourselves and for others; not to do so deadens our bodies and our spirits. When I did not write, I suffocated in silence.
“What is in us must out,” wrote the great Canadian stress researcher, Dr. Hans Selye, “otherwise we may explode at the wrong places or become hopelessly hemmed in by frustrations. The great art is to express our vitality through the particular channels and at the particular speed Nature foresaw for us.”
– Gabor Mate, When the Body Says No (quoted in his own book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts)