I have been a lover of words since I was a young girl. I started writing seriously when I was nine years old, carrying a red spiral notebook with me wherever I went and writing poems and stories with the fervor of a frightened child willing herself to survive through the written word. I have never stopped writing and more often than anything else in my life it is words that save me. At a difficult juncture in my life I am returning to words once again and I will heal myself with each curve of a letter, dangling at times from a single syllable, holding a vowel close and letting it hum inside my mouth as I try to form the words that will be my salvation. I am looking back to the journal writing process which I taught for four decades and lived for much longer. I am wondering if I will return to teaching this process which I both taught as a method of self-discovery and healing, as well as a way to record and keep our stories. Muriel Rukeyser said, “Our lives are made of stories, not atoms.” I am getting ready to write a new story for my life.
Today I listened to the “On Being” podcast done by Krista Tippett as she interviewed poet Naomi Shihab Nye who said that writing things down makes people feel better. Such a simple and elegant statement, powerful and true. Writing things down releases them from our body where they may be pent up causing anxiety and fear, the unknown and unseeable made manifest on the page before our eyes. Something concrete and real can be dealt with. Words on the page anchor us in reality. I need words more than I ever have before.
I have been feeling lost, not knowing what direction to go, what I wanted to do when the longing to do anything at all felt absent. I have decided that blogging more and exploring this here can be a way that I can unearth the things that are under layers of numbness, deadened with fear, from worries about survival on basic levels, to everyday realities. I am only 62 years old. I am healthy and strong. I have life to live ahead of me and I don’t want to take that for granted. I will use words as tools and go spelunking in the caverns of my mind to unearth the things that can still call to me, strengthen the will to live and create and be in the world. I will refer to thesauruses and my trusty synonym finder, to The Oxford English Dictionary and all manner of books to help me find my way. I will read for pleasure and read for gain. I will write my way to clearer days.
I used to go everywhere with my journal and pens and write wherever I was, from room to room in the house to cafes, libraries, in the car, and all around town. These days I seldom leave my house and I no longer carry a journal with me, but I want that to change. Without writing to clearcut the path I have been lost in a jumble of overgrown weeds in my mind, amorphous blobs of anxiety, my psyche battered and bruised from pathways littered with fallen branches of thought and dark things that go bump in the night. Daily writing opens up the channels and lets the spirit breathe.
And should I teach again? I am pondering that, wondering if, in this day when so many are offering journal classes of one type or another if I have something unique to offer, and I think that I do, I am just not certain if this is the way I should make my way in the world. When I teach I put heart, mind, body and soul into my classes, I give my all to my students, it is a whole life process for me and I would need it to sustain me. Can it do that today? These are things I am considering now.
But beside all of that, apart from matters of clarity and survival, I am simply falling in love with words again, how they feel forming in the mouth, handwritten on paper, typed with keyboard. I have come a long way from the years when I would never have considered keeping a journal on a computer to now when it is the most natural form of writing for me and my fingers sail across the keys, an easier way to keep up with my thoughts. I think I will keep my journal on the computer. In an age when people are getting back to beautiful journals, handmade journals, artful journals, all of which I love and admire, I am hell bent on writing as fast as I can, of building a life with words, building a monument to sentences and paragraphs, and the computer is my tool of choice. So be it. I have fallen from grace, I’m quite certain, but I am writing as fast as the wind as I fall.
And this blog. I want to resurrect it. It has nearly fallen by the wayside during these months of fearful living but it can be my record of days and times spent finding my way back to life. If the days of bipolar highs and lows threaten to overtake me I will write here on my own behalf to save me from myself, and when the days are better and brighter I will share how I have found my way to the mountaintop, to a sunlit meadow in my soul. What better way to sustain the sunlight than to write about it?
And so now I will sit back and shake this page out and see if all of the words still cling to it, if it is ready to wend its way to you. I hope you will come back and be with me as I find my way. I would enjoy the pleasure of your company. It would help me stay the course. Do leave me notes below and I will answer you. Let’s have a dialogue. Tell me how you are, if you keep a journal and in what form, if words soothe the savage beast for you. Let’s find our way together, letter by letter, syllable by syllable, sentence by sentence. The time is now. Let us begin…