In the excellent writing workshop I'm taking, we spend some time in class actually writing. With pen and paper (I can scarcely remember the last time I tried that). What a concept!--at first I doubted I could put together coherent sentences without a keyboard, or an hour to agonize over every syllable. Not that I'm always so slow; sometime I just type, and there it is. But occasionally I doubt my entire ability to string words together, and nothing comes out. This is a great exercise to help one get over oneself. Here's what I wrote in class tonight:
I have prepared my Torah portion completely and perfectly, but I wake up on Shabbat morning in a cold sweat--I know I will forget. I don't know why I know, but I'm sure. I remember other moments of forgetting, when the letters danced unbidden on the parchment as my yad pointed insistently, unable to spear any of the words and keep them still.
More than anything, I'm afraid of being afraid.
Shivering, I walk up to the bima. I grab the yad with both hands like a baseball bat; if I imagine it's big and heavy, maybe I will be able to keep those words in their places. I look down to find the beginning of the passage, but instead of a craggy cliff of letters I see the banks of a river, and a gentle stream of words flowing between them. The lines and curves at the edge of each line seem to stretch out their serifs and crowns in greeting to meet the others. Word by word as I chant, they take my hand and lead me forward.