Thursday, March 08, 2007

Why Bother?

Lookee there.. on the way to trying to find a way to sleep... which route took me through a thorny little something else... I found a piece of an answer to a question that has long stood unanswered: Why do I write? More than once someone has asked me... why do you do so much on paper? If there are all these deep feelings, why are you writing them instead of talking them?

Look what I found: Why? Because you're not here! You (whoever the 'you' at that particular bump in the road might have been) weren't here. In review, I realize I really don't have much writing at all - of the kind in question - from relationships of any kind when those people were really present in my life. When they were really here, it wasn't so much that there was less to write about as that we lived it instead. They were here. I could reach out and touch them as a thought first began, sometimes they saw it before I did, & then they were there through the growing of it... no need to tell them about it all over again, unless it was to capture it in one place, like a snapshot to remember. To cherish. A picture of words to put in a photo album of life worth remembering. There's an old adage about not letting the sun set on your anger... I figured that should be extended to most feelings... but when the co-conspirator of those feelings isn't present & accounted for - either physically or emotionally - that's hard to do. "Here" means where I can touch you. Connect. See you. Know whether you smell like anger.. or fear... or safety and reassurance.. or rejection. See whether the muscles get all tensed up in your shoulders drawing you inward or your jaw clenches or your brow furrows... or whether your body is open to me, relaxed, inviting -- rules of body language: whither the body goeth, the mind and heart follows! Sense whether you're hearing me or thinking about something completely unrelated. Have some sort of idea about whether 'now' is a good time. Know whether you are fully present or distracted by work.. or kids.. or school.. or TV... Have clues about where & whether we agree, talk about where we differ.

Rather than let the grace of being in the feeling, in the moment flee... rather than letting clarity and courage pass & become clouded like a forgotten dream, I write. It is my way of bringing you back to here. If I can't reach out to wake you... if I can't reach out a hand to touch you, or if I can't get you to hear the beating of my heart, perhaps I can at least create words that might bring you back to where I am at the moment I write it. And then maybe, if we're lucky, it will be worth finding a way to make work.. and school... and kids.. and TV give us enough peace to try to recreate 'now'. Dial back the sun so that it never went down without making the day right between us.

That's not the only reason, of course, I've written about other bits before - cowardice, pride, fear, overflowing, a need to organize chaotic thought, a way to get all the way through a piece without being interrupted, or derailed, a way to let you 'hear' when you're ready to hear, a desire to be complete & clear in a way I can never manage when I speak - but the concept of you simply not being here an elusive important piece I hadn't quite connected before. I talked about it a lot, felt it more... but never really connected it to this question. And I know that this solution - writing instead of talking - isn't perfect, but substitutes rarely are. That would be why they're substitutes.

You can't really dial back the sun. But sometimes you have to take the best substitute you can dig up.


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