Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brain Clunk

“For every failure, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” – Mary Kay Ash


A few days ago I read something that stopped me dead in my tracks (Cue the sound of an engine falling out of a car). I couldn’t shift back into gear for the life of me until I reassessed my thoughts on the matter.

It doesn’t happen often.

For the most part I read and glean all I can and move on.

What was all the commotion about? Janet Reid had posted a Typography link that held these two lines ensconced.

“What has happened to our conviction?” and “Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?”

I balked, stammered and watched the video again and again, until I ended up going in search of the original poem by Taylor Mali. I was enthralled, wanting/needing to follow suit and reaffirm my own convictions.

Convictions - Those strong persuasions of belief that lend strength and credence to who we are and what we stand for. Sound familiar?

It’s effortless to forget things which once stirred us to speak out and up. What happened to those times we made decisions with the utmost conviction, knowing this is what you were meant to do – be?

In this day and age of choices it’s all too easy to leave it to someone else or better yet - give up, because the road has suddenly become unbearable and difficult. After all without our convictions what could possibly drive us to pursue that avenue of hardship?

Take my choice to be a writer for instance, it’s a long difficult journey to get to the publishing stage. There are self doubts and days of pulling your hair out, screaming fits of what am I doing to myself. It’s a rare opportunity to get that pat on the back with exclamations of you're doing great, keep up the good work. A choice in which you learn you’re a company of one, who may or may not have that best seller in you.

So why do it? - Because I can’t imagine doing anything else. Life is a process of repeatedly falling and getting back up until you’re strong enough to stand against the tide. The only way you get there or anywhere in life, is having the conviction to believe in yourself.

Without a doubt there will be days conviction in itself won't be enough and you'll need all the courage and brute determination you can spare to stay the course.

So the question belies – Am I writer? Do I see things in poetic detail or lives played out in the form of characters in a book. Am I a storyteller who loves to imagine all the possibilities of consequences? Better yet…go ahead and ask the hard question. Do I believe I’m a writer?

Picture from here

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What She Saw...

"I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender"

Gently pushing loose strands of long dark hair behind her ear and bending over the page in front of her, pen in hand the woman sighs heavily. Chin nestled in her palm weighing down her elbow leaving grooved ridges from the hard oaken wood table. Here she was a writer - missing words and phrases. Her head rises in frustration catching the broken desolate building across the yard in her view from the dining room window. The corner of her lips pull into a playful smile and she remembered, what she saw…

She saw a man crawl through the brambles and thick tangle of vines on hands and knees to rescue a mewling pitiful cat from beneath a broken down shed. The man more worried about an animal than his own safety. She smiled, shaking her head as he fed the cat before checking to see how badly scratched he might be.

She saw a man sit across from a woman and carry on a conversation. Intrigued she watched him spellbound by mere words. Nothing distracted from the importance of what she had to say – not then or ever to this man. He never minded once hearing her voice. Little did she know soon, he would be one of the few people who truly heard.

She saw a man angrily argue with a woman child that wasn’t his. Little did the almost woman know he cared much like a father. She saw him crumble into tears with worry. He wouldn’t have ever let on, because it was never about him.

She saw a man work hard with sweat streaming down his face and neck as he walked through the door. He wouldn’t be kissed, he smelled of dirt and grime. Little did he know she would have gladly kissed his sweat lined lips. He did it all for her, for them. She knew.

She saw a man slam a door and drive away in anger. A woman felt pain in places and ways she never believed possible. A part of her had walked away with him. She heard the silent apology crying out too late, willing him back. Both at fault - a mere argument that occurs between couples.

She saw two people, a man and a woman stretching boundaries – learning to blend, yet remain separate.

She saw a man play his guitar and pat his amp beckoning the woman to sit. He cried right along with her while he played The Little Drummer Boy. He gave the gift of sound the only way he knew how in her silent world.

She saw a man walk through the door bewildered, confused and torn after taking one look at the woman across the room. Without a word he went to her, gently wiping away tears, he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. He wouldn’t let go until she believed in herself again, until she knew she was loved unconditionally. He knew words weren’t enough, his arms would have to suffice.

She saw a man reach out his hand with a smile and invitation. And the couple walked that way for some time hand in hand. The smiles on their faces saying more than words could portray.

She saw a man watch a woman worriedly in a hospital room. He could read all the ‘what ifs’ that lined her face. He danced a gig and made a fool of himself until she left the room in tears and peals of laughter.

She saw a man hold up his hand and make the sign for love, the woman did the same letting the tips of their fingers grace each other - This sacred bedtime ritual that was theirs and theirs alone.

She saw a man love a woman.

The woman stopped writing and once again pushed strands of hair away from her face. The evening glow of the afternoon splashed across the table from the window. Her smile was infectious. Her words, her understanding in pen strokes on the page before her testified - love wasn’t a single day, a memory, or even a moment. What she saw…was something with the makings of a lifetime. Solid and sure.

Lyrics Here

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Why of the Why Not

“Curiosity is idle only to those who fail to realize that it may be a very rare and indispensable thing” – James Harvey Robinson


A breathy timid voice asks, “Why?” The mother looks down, rubbing her thumb along the petite ridge of hand in hers and regards her child’s inquisitive question. She smiles at the dance of wonder and awe that alights in her daughter’s eyes and tries to answer the question, knowing in her heart what ever answer she gives won’t satisfy.

Quick on the tail of her reply escapes another, “Why?” in her daughters singsong voice reminiscent of the tinkling melody of wind chimes swayed by a breeze and the dance begins again; over and over until either out of frustration or genuine alarm the mother realizing she has no more answers retorts, “Because I said so.”

In that moment the little girl's innocence becomes overshadowed on her minuscule features by a look of abject seriousness, outweighing her young age. No she’s not satisfied. There is more to the why and she wants her answer. She can’t move beyond until she understands and with purpose belying her age, she goes in search of yet another adult, another big human to question – why?

Do you remember that point in your life when you came to understand some questions would never truly be given a satisfactory answer? The possibility perhaps – there was no answer. We should, it’s a rite of passage of growing up and questioning everything and anything in our pursuit of knowledge and our relentless need to fill our curious natures. My question then is? When did you stop asking why?

Our adult selves tend to go with the flow, to accept things as they are rarely questioning the reasoning for what is. Until a child’s timid question charges the air demanding, “Why?”

I was never satisfied with not knowing the answer and went in pursuit of some form of adequate response. There had to be an answer that could fill the want in my child long enough before the next set of why(s) quickly resurfaced in curiosity. As an adult...I forget to ask myself why. Why did it matter so much to feed her curiosity - because it fed mine.

These days when I write, I see my writing with a child’s innocent curiosity. I believe I have most of the answers for my characters, but what if I don’t. What if for some reason what unfolds in the storyline doesn’t make sense to anyone at all? Can I trust that whomever is reading will go in pursuit of their own answers or do I try to answer the impossible and worry perhaps they will get frustrated and give up so easily at trying to comprehend - as they may tire with a child’s endless chorus of why?

Maybe if you look closely enough the answer is there, hidden in the depths of the long ago curious child inside of you. As a writer I can easily say, “Why not,” Why not live, why not die (from a characters point of view), why not smile, why not cry. For every why – if you remember that childlike wonder and gullible belief, there is a why not.

Life is complicated. Sometimes there really are no answers. For the ones we can find to fill our curiosity, those not readily available answers – I hope you never grow too old or wise to stop asking, “Why?” 

Maybe that’s why I’m a writer. I’ve never stopped being curious and investigating the possibilities of life. My characters get to live all those myriad answers. I can only hope by the end of reading me, I have not fully answered your questions and leave you asking why. I’ll consider it a gift if I do. - Indigo

Picture from here