Author Liwen Y. Ho

The Power of the (Toilet) Plunger and the Pen

Have you ever witnessed a backed-up toilet explode? Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight (or smell!).

During my last two years of college, I had the pleasure of living with three girlfriends. We shared a lot of things in that two bedroom apartment – meals, laughter, tears and, of course, a bathroom. And it was in that tiny bathroom that I got the shock of my life one spring afternoon when I pushed down the lever to flush.

Sputter. Gurgle. WHOOSH.

Before I could blink, the water in the bowl had risen to the rim and began rushing over the edge like a mini Niagara Falls. I jumped back as far as I could as the contents of the toilet seeped onto the linoleum and threatened to touch my bare feet. Half holding my breath and half praying, I considered my options: A) Run and hide! or B) Unclog the toilet. No matter how much I wanted to go with the first option, I knew I’d have to deal with the mess sooner or later. The only problem was that none of us girls had thought to buy a toilet plunger.

Oops.

Thankfully, the landlord lived upstairs, and after explaining the situation to him, he ventured into the toxic waste zone known as our bathroom and restored the porcelain throne to working condition. After thanking him profusely, I cleaned up the floor, disinfected my hands and said a prayer of thanks for whoever invented the plunger. (The fact that I used three forms of the word thanks in two sentences should tell you how thankful I was!)

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Who knew a simple rubber device like a plunger could be so powerful? 🙂

I think the same can be said of the pen.

You’ve probably heard the quote “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Have you ever thought about why that’s true?

As someone who writes every day, I can testify to how amazing words are. They have the influence to make or break a person, the force to change a situation and the power to evoke laughter or tears. Most importantly, I believe words have the power to heal.

How do words heal? By taking the unspoken and unsettled things in our hearts and bringing them to the forefront. By pinpointing the reasons behind our emotions – our joy and sadness and fear – and making us reflect on them. Taking the time to put our thoughts and feelings into words forces us to stop … to feel … and to be.

We spend so much of our days doing and fighting and stuffing and, basically, hiding away the experiences we go through. This is especially true of the negative situations we face. It’s so much safer to push the bad memories and emotions down and not deal with them. But the truth is that sooner or later, all the gunk and refuse and waste we hide away gets backed-up in the recesses of our hearts. And it cuts off the life that should be flowing through it. And as we learned from my bathroom story, a clogged toilet – or heart – is not a pretty sight.

I recently read some old essays that I wrote a few years ago. These pieces were penned when I first began my writing journey and was still processing through a lot of “life stuff” from the past. As expected, the words I jotted down were a little on the emo side and even a little dark. Reading those essays probably should have brought me down, but they didn’t. I felt nothing but relief and freedom.

It was through the power of the pen (or in my case, the computer keyboard) that I was able to dig through the stuff that I had hidden away. When I formed those experiences and emotions into words, I began the process of unclogging my heart.

Writing is seriously one of the best (and cheapest) forms of therapy. You can do it anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a pen and a piece of paper. So, take some time to listen to your heart and write down what it’s telling you.

Also, take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Fight Song”. I hope it will inspire you to fight for your freedom from the stuff that’s clogging up your heart.

What experiences or emotions are clogging your heart? Write about them today.

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