Let me ask, have you ever gone to sea in the dark? Have you watched the shorelights spin slowly out of all direction, so that familiar territory becomes a deep night dream, a wild fire dream, and you aren't sure you'll ever come to anchor again?
Have you walked barefoot in a thunderstorm, and as rain pelts hard against your umbrella you feel like this is a bombardment of love which will never let you go, never give you up, no matter how many times you sit nodding as the atheists lecture on, and how many times you laugh, allowing them to presume?
This world is so beautiful. But we live, although so many of us don't realise it, on the verge of something inexplicable, untouchable, wild. We go about with only two eyes open, innocent and small.
Touch a man's skin, on the inner length of his leg, or in the curve beneath his eye. Are you touching skin, cells, simple matter? Or are you touching the boy who used to sleep smiling, holding a toy dinosaur, in the sunlight on long soft afternoons, and the lad who ran sunburned and laughing down beach roads, and the man who is scared sometimes to look at you, for doubt, for vulnerability, the man who dreams whole worlds beneath that skin - and who, when you close your eyes, becomes light in your dark, the aura of his cellular matter, the blaze of his soul?
So let me ask another thing. Is God a figment of our evolved imagination, a just silly story, now that we know it all?
Or are we only looking at shorelines, at rainfall, at skin, and thinking that is everything to know?
I wish I could remember when I first began writing. It seems troubling that I can't. Surely there ought to have been one profound moment, one story blossoming from a heart which had been slow-rooting in poetry? Truthfully, though, I think I was not meant in any special way for this occupation. I daydreamed, and I read books. That's all.
But maybe it began on summer weekends when we'd visit my mother's friend. She had a typewriter, and while the other children played I would type sardonic complaint letters to imaginary companies. My mother and her friend would laugh over them (in a good way) and my mother would brag a little about me, and I'd feel really rather grand. So maybe I was intended to be a comedienne, but the words drew me in. It's hard to say how these things happen. I can mostly just tell you that I wrote badly, very very badly, for a long time. (Often I think I still do.) I was no prodigy, destined to the craft.
Over time writing developed into just another muscle in my body. I wrote when I was sad, lonely, hurt, inspired, passionate, interested. It became my response mechanism. Maybe that means I'm not really a writer, simply someone who writes the way other people weep or shout: expressing my humanity, rather than working on a craft. These days, when I am sad, lonely, inspired, I begin writing in my mind almost instantly, and it comforts me. It helps me survive intense moments. Actual writing on the page is a very different experience.
I remind myself of this when I feel small or incompetent, and when I sit infront of a manuscript and see only words on white, no deeper -
I'm not really a writer. I'm not creating written products. I'm just a woman who connects with the world through words.
And reading those words is how the world connects with me.
Was there ever a special moment when you realised your own calling?
A weblog without a focus is a waste of time. This is what I read the other day, and I sighed and felt sad. Not for myself, though. For the woman who did not understand how there are different kinds of people in this world.
Those who are rooted, who need a focus and a sure-thing family home.
Those who are wanderers, shod with dreams.
And those who are one but, by circumstance or public opinion's power, live the other.
I am the third. I have stapled wings and weighed down shoes. It is half circumstantial injury, half good choices, and that's fine. One day it might be different. (There will always be a Kombi van in my heart, a camera, an old notebook.) But right now I also have this weblog, my mapless realm for writing, and I will not salt it with other people's rules. I will be an unfocused wanderer, and I will leave you my footprints amongst the wildflowers, if you want to follow.
And you? Is it a porchlight and a familiar old garden path for you? Do you live deep in home territory? Or do you go wide, far, wild?