The Distiller

The Distiller on a good day

There is a part inside me that sees the world in black and white. She measures my successes in one hundred percent parcels, working day and night to protect me from criticism, judgements and failures. I call her the Distiller, distilling right from wrong, success from failure, black from white. I see her in my mind’s eye. She’s a little girl, six or seven, with braids in her hair and innocent eyes as large as the world. In her stockinged feet and with her little girl’s hands, like a miniature Atlas she helps me hold up my globe of self confidence, self appreciation and self love.

The Distiller believes that criticism will end my writing. She also believes I cannot handle praise. She has records and can prove her point. I’m right, she tells me, her braids swinging. What will happen when someone dislikes your book, as inevitably will happen if you get published? she asks me. You’d better not publish, she advises. But you can write, if you must.

She loves me, the Distiller. I can feel her affection for me, the caring which she puts into weighing every situation, determining if it is something which will break me. She thinks me fragile as a hollow porcelain doll, as though too much content inside will make me break. Tirelessly she beseeches me to do less, work less, write less, take more help. She comforts me whenever I am tired, urging me to rest. You don’t have to write right now, she urges me. You’re tired. You’ll be even more tired after you write. And I listen to her and go rest, even though my Inner Judge huffs and puffs and lets out a string of complaints.

The Distiller hushes him. She’s the intermediary, the gate keeper to his harsh opinions, sometimes soothing them, sometimes letting them through. I know that together with the Judge, the Distiller blocks my ambitions as a writer, and yet I like her. In her way she only wants what’s good for me. She simplifies my world. I think of the Distiller as my doorway, and if I can get her to crack the door open just a little bit more, perhaps there will be space enough for me to spread my wings and fly.

These last few days have been good for my writing, but I can do better than this. Stories bubble within me, eager to come out. My imagination spins tales, and my hands can’t move fast enough to type them out. I want to open up a dialog with the Distiller. I’d like to explain that success and failure are many shades of grey apart, that we together, she and I, can define what success and failure mean, and that even our new definition can be flexible. Let me fly, little Doorkeeper. I promise to behave. I know I can depend on you to support me and to care, but together we can understand: changing our definition of success is the best and most foolproof method to insure that I do not fail.

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Sigal Tzoore (650) 815-5109