And so it went…

Archive for November 2011

 

When I was a child I believed no one existed beyond my interaction with them.  I was the center of everything; the people, places and things I encountered as I moved through my life were created simply for my benefit – good or bad. The idea that anyone had a life beyond the moments they shared with me was utterly unthinkable.  My life was  a movie starring me.   (Yes, I was really that self-centered. I was a child. That was my excuse. I have no guilt.)

I don’t know exactly when I realized I was wrong about this theory but, to be honest, there are times it has felt like I may have been right all along and the movie is still in production. The cast of characters passing through my life continues to appear, more than a few as if they were sent directly from central casting.  It can be a little frustrating though: the good guys don’t always wear white hats, the bad guys don’t always wear black, and there’s rarely a lone ranger or cavalry to save the day.  (Not even a Mighty Mouse on the most lighthearted of days.)  Nonetheless, the players come and go as the movie rolls along, and the story writes itself.

On a certain level I know it must be a sure sign of mental illness to believe any of this could be so.  Even more so now that the world we live in, with all its technological advances, pushes my theory to a new level of questioning what is reality and what is not.

People now enter my life through the Internet — via social networking such as Facebook “relationships” and “communities” — and remain there as ghosts in my machine, so to speak. Until I see them in flesh and blood, eyes smiling back a friendly “hello”, sharing life experiences over a cup of tea do they exist at all? Who are they, really?  Where did they come from? Where do they go when they aren’t interacting with me?  Have they been sent to teach me something – about life? about myself? If I turn off my computer forever, never to click on the Internet again, will they cease to exist?

At times I don’t know how I should feel about caring for people who exist in my life in ether only.  I don’t know if that’s “normal” or “healthy” or “advisable”.  My head tells me saying “So-and-so A is my friend” or “So-and-so B is sweet and I can trust her” is just craziness if I don’t know her in a “real world” sense, if I haven’t taken the time to develop a “real” relationship with her.  (And don’t get my head started on the concept of falling in love over the Internet.) But couldn’t that be said about people I meet in my workplace or corner coffee shop? After all, people are rarely who they present themselves to be, putting themselves in the best possible light when they stand in front of you each day, and there are some you can know your entire life only to find you never truly “knew” them at all. Any relationship requires a juggling act with trust, common sense, and keeping your eyes open, doesn’t it? My head and I argue about this often.

But my heart screams, “Don’t limit yourself!  Don’t confine the caring about, sharing with, or loving someone, ever.  Don’t preclude the possibility of a life-changing relationship (be it romantic or friendship alone) based on how it reveals itself to you.  Sometimes in life you just have to put yourself out there and see what comes of it. For goodness sake, don’t brush aside friendship with a world of diverse, creative, lovely people simply because you can’t touch their hand or share the oxygen of the same room with them.”

My head and my heart remain at odds but I mostly follow my heart.

I amble within some bizarre Twilight Zone of questioning the entire reality of my world.  I could wake up tomorrow morning and find that no one is here, or out there, or anywhere; all of this, my entire life, has been some crazy practical joke played on me by a twisted, psycho Creator. I could just as easily be as crazy I sound, belonging in a padded cell so as not to hurt myself or others. Or, I could wake up to find I’ve been in a coma for years and it was all a dream.  Or not.

Who knows? Do you? Are you sure?

Can any of us be sure?

A question was posed by a fellow blogger: Why do we write? On the face of it, it seems like a simple enough question with an easier answer.  Looks can be deceiving.

My immediate response was an Alice James quote: “ I think if I get into the habit of writing a bit about what happens, or rather what doesn’t happen, I may lose a little of the sense of loneliness and desolation which abides in me.”  At the time, I truly felt that it summed up why I write and what writing does for me in a simple, honest way.

Then I went to bed. And, as often happens, my brain refused to settle into sleep.  I couldn’t stop thinking about writing and why I need to write.  As I lay there in the dark I realized there is no simple answer to the question. There just isn’t.

I write to fill a hole deep within me – a word-hungry hole starving for verbs, nouns, adjectives and pronouns.  It churns within me demanding to be fed. I stuff it constantly with simple phrases, paragraphs, commas, exclamation points and run on sentences but it’s never satisfied. I seek out new vocabulary for added flavor, marveling at the depth how a turn of phrase can reconstitute an entire work of prose.  I pepper its meals with poetry, essay, and short stories of my own, even reading to it the works of writers I admire.  Still it remains ravenous, digging deeper within me.

I write because I know – I am convinced – there resides within me something crying to be set free, to be born of the written word.  Created in the muscle of memory and imagination, it holds joy and pain tightly in its curled fist. I feel it breathe and stretch within my soul, energized by the emotions evoked in the sights, smells, and sensations of life. Words are its nutrition and expression its lifeblood. I, alone, have a responsibility for its care, its feeding, its growth.  I am its sole provider. I often fail in my responsibility.

I write because, as the quote, there does abide within me a sense of loneliness and desolation. A need to be heard and seen and understood. A need to know I am not alone in my fears, my joys, my questioning and celebrating of life, both the minutia and the grandiose.  I write because there is a need – unnamed and untapped – I have yet to fulfill.

And so it is that after all my reflection and introspection, I see now the truth of why I write is this: I simply must.

I simply must.