Sunday, November 23, 2014
How Do Ya Like THESE Essays, Baby?
You know the drill by now. Unedited clips from my beginning of year writing challenge. Enjoy.
What if your last words to me were your last words to me? What if my last words to you were my last? Have you opened your heart, shared your mind? Have I honored our friendship, left you with a smile? Or have we worked at tearing each other apart, creating a divide that sends us drifting?
(Nothing about what I wrote this day will be seen in print.)
Eyes meet eyes, heart goes pitter pat, words are spoken with merely a glance. Soul recognizes soul.
It is not up to anyone else to make you happy. That comes from YOU. You want flowers? They make you smile? Buy yourself flowers. You would love a candlelit dinner with a little Bach in the background? Put on some pasta and queue up the Pandora. I know your argument here. It is not the flowers or the candles or the glass of Pinot gris. It is the idea of having someone who cares, someone to lavish on you beautiful words and beautiful gifts, a loving touch. Let me ask this. Do you not love yourself? Do you not love yourself enough to do these things? Partnered or not, love yourself enough to shower on you words of praise, thoughtful gifts, and romantic dinners. Treat yourself to a beautiful day. Do all those things that make your heart smile.
A note. Naïve or not.
As you go about your day today, ask yourself, “Does this make me smile? Does it make another smile? Will it, at some point, make someone smile?” I look at it like this. There is enough hatred and ugly in the world. I do not need to put that purposely in front of my face. No, I will never be the sole reason for world peace, love, compassion, but could I be a contributing force? Others make fun. Others say I have my head in the clouds, that I am naïve, sheltered, unrealistic. I am not. I do know that there is evil in the world. I do know that there are those who are just mean. I don’t care about that. I care about the small difference that I can make from the place where I stand.
What does that difference look like? It looks like a kind word to a lonely soul, a hand in a lonely hand. It looks like a laugh on a saddened face, a smile in the dark. It looks like a balloon given to a child, a cupcake for no reason at all. It looks like flowers, wine, a beautiful dish for one who has seen a few heartbreaks. It looks like hot stew on a cold night, running in fresh cut grass with tiny people who think you are their world. It looks like a phone call to a shut-in, a letter to a dear old friend. It looks like lattes and laughs and warm, enveloping hugs.
I am beginning to look forward to his letters. Each one reveals a new piece of me in him. I am giddy like a schoolgirl with her first crush.
I have found a kindred spirit. When one chooses to live her heart through the pen, she is drawn to others who do the same. It is a difficult life to express emotion in word, to bleed onto page, to reveal that which no normal person would touch. I do not feel, I write. I do not filter, I pen. I seek, always, acceptance, approval, to be desired by those who take a peek at my skill in crafting a phrase.
I am the equivalent of a common flasher. How do ya like THESE essays, baby?
It is not so easy in the beginning. A writer must find her voice. She is like the impressionist, trying out voices of others. She writes like her favorite author, like her high school English teacher, like her Uncle Joe, like her friend’s floozy aunt. At first she writes safe and shallow, thinking to herself that her family, friends, and colleagues will see her words. Then she gets brave and loose, thinking to herself, “Oh, my GOD, my children and my MOTHER are going to SEE this!” In the beginning the writer is the emotionally constipated executive, penning her words all suit and tie.
If she is lucky she persists until she is free, until she is the seventh grade art teacher with the flowing skirt and the bangly earrings she made herself out of beads and clay and feathers and stone. She persists until she runs barefoot through her pages with flowers in her hair, blowing kisses, singing Kumbaya, and tossing little love notes to the crowd. She persists until she gets far too comfortable exposing herself in print, until she lives for it, needs it, loosening those top buttons to expose a bit of cleavage, mussing her hair until it’s bedroom sexy, leaving her readers drooling, wanting more. This. THIS is her true voice.
He was searching when I found him, searching for a voice of his own. We helped each other with our craft. I honed my skill as he developed his.
I am not much a fan of labels. As much as I love a word and the power it has to lift, motivate, encourage, inspire, I do realize the impact a few letters penned together can have on tearing a person down, on negatively impacting a life, on pitting human being against human being. With just a syllable or two, I can either embrace you, wrapping you in a warm loving energy, or I can spit in your face, drag your soul through mud and dirt and hang you to dry for all to see when I finish.
I can throw word on word out at you to describe who I am and that for which I stand, but would you love me less if I did? If I tell you that I believe in God but am not a fan of religion, that I could never personally have an abortion but support a woman’s decision to do so, that I believe we should be free to marry, love, and have sex with whomever we please, and that guns in the hands of angry, arrogant people never seems a good idea to me, would you stand ready, stand ready for attack, stand ready to defend?
It is easy to love those like us. It is no effort at all to embrace one who agrees, who mirrors, who nods. Where the challenge lies is in opening one’s heart to those who are different. I do not mean here “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I mean love. Period. The challenge lies in accepting that the person in front of you is doing his best, has struggles and desires, and wants to live a happy life just as do you. The challenge lies in seeing not a label but heart and flesh. The challenge lies in appreciating the differences, celebrating the differences, acknowledging the similarity.
The challenge lies in seeing the person not the word.
Talking to this friend is like looking at myself in opposite form. I do not understand what is happening. I have never met anyone with whom I share so many likenesses. Why have we come together? Why have our paths crossed? What does this mean?