A sliver separates me from the solace that I find myself in and the quieting world outside. A window, slightly ajar, its gaudy day-white frame barely visible in the outer fringes of the penumbra cast by the screen before me, is the gateway. It is the time of hush, the time of transformation. I listen, and wait for the patiently for the key, for the sounds of night to begin. The nigh imperceptible sound, the muted scratch, scratch of claws on grass carry through the indigo. The raccoons are foraging, the nocturnal hours are upon me.
I am not a writer, though I have delved into the shallow end of academic essays and briefly cast my hand into the world of journalism. However, this is composition, this arrangement of information into pieces of authority or entertainment. Such work belongs in the gloss of the day, before the chrysalis fractures and the butterfly emerges. Now, this very moment, it is night, it is time to write.
Today, I found myself in pleasant company. Wine in hand, sitting idly under the shelter of the back porch, a cool breeze wishing away the heat of early summer afternoon, we talked. Effervescently. As the sun graced downwards and the lengthening shade of the sugar maple arced over the frosted bottle on the little glass topped table, we turned to speak of language, of books, and of writing. It was here that I heard the words asked of me: “Why do you write?”
My reply at the time was brief, not because I couldn’t say, but because it wasn’t the time to say. Writing is deeply personal to me, and such a conversation is evocative, it demands intimacy.
Nowadays, I write prolifically. I write here, in my journal of daily reflections, in my chronicles of the day, and elsewhere. It isn’t an obsession, but rather, an exploration and evolution of the self, borne of an awareness of the myriad of experiences I have had and continue to have.
I have written since I was a teenager, but not in any determined methodical sense. Back then it was scribbles on paper, random thoughts and ideas, and this continued so until I found myself escaping from a world that disillusioned me. Almost a year on the road, living out of the back of my car, and I would take out a notebook every night and write down a few words for myself and, on occasion, would pen a letter to a friend left behind. Pen on paper, freeflow.
I still write with ink when I am particularly moved by emotion. I still enjoy the sensation of skin on parchment, the wavering dance of my hand as it serves to record whatever I am feeling at the time. Writing like this, liberated from any effort of planned coherence, is a zenith of experience. A journey with a starting point but no idea of destination. It is special. It is raw honesty, an immediate cascade of self.
This is not what I am doing now; at this moment I am crafting. This piece, like the others that have preceded it in this forum, are considered. Stripped of the brutal, naive honesty that characterizes my hand written treasures, pieces such as this are deliberate pointed distillations of the thoughts and feelings that I am holding.
This world is complex and convoluted, and to understand my place in this world, to enable some grounding, to relieve myself of the cut of some of the shards of life, takes work. This is the work I am living now in the quiescence of the night.
It is an oasis of sorts, physical, mental and emotional. It is a place of familiarity, where regardless of what I bring with me, I find the space to rest. The outcomes of this time are not always pretty, some insights I have come to are far from that. Yet even despair carries meaning, for without exploring that which surrounds me, I cannot find my place in it. This is learning, this is growth.
One thing that I do from time to time when I find myself in peace is go back and reread what I have written in times past. The words written then, despite being shaped by the person I have become, still carry something of me. Commonalities exist, jarring discrepancies raise their heads, and through this I see the unfolding of the person here now.
I have been asked before why I publish writing such as this since I claim it to be so personal. I do not do so in order to intentionally impart my thoughts to others, to influence, to make people think. I certainly do not do so in order to benefit financially from it, and I do not do so out of vanity. Rather I publish what I write because once it is out there, it is an indelible picture of me at that time. The words I have put on the page are permanent and this demands utmost attention to substance, to process, to introspection, and to veracity of moment.
I write then, to find who I am. And within the profusion of letters, words and phrases that I have put down, edited, and re-edited the thread is there. Somewhere in there lies the story of me.
This is why I write.