Why the world needs you to write


Someone I know posted this picture on Facebook today.

I couldn’t stop looking at it. This photograph is exactly where I am in my life.

It’s a metaphor I needed, and it shakes me up.

My life is changing directions, and soon. I’ve felt it coming. And despite living in a horrible rut these past couple of years, I can’t shake the mildly contradictory feeling that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Running fast and furious toward what I thought I wanted was the correct thing for my path at that time. It led me here. I felt it the whole way, and have no major regrets. (There are things I’d do differently, you bet, but I believe things always wind up as they’re meant to be.)

Whatever the case, here I am today. And “here” feels like a junction. Not that I took a wrong turn, exactly; it’s just time for another. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes which I have not yet shared on this blog, but things are, well, morphing in and out of my world these days. This year marks a defined stopping point in my life for both personal and professional reasons, and I can see the next path, laid bare right before me. Waiting. Reaching out to unseen places.

Aaaand… crap. It’s in an opposite direction.

Forget all my silly preparation.

Risks. Fresh air.

New skies.

That terrifies me.

And this picture sums all that up perfectly.

But here’s the thing…

My problems were not remotely in the photographer’s mind when she took this shot.

Actually, we don’t even know each other very well. She’s a lot younger than me, and has had a completely different kind of life. She was on a plane to a country I’ve never visited. There, she made a singular collection of memories that no one else will ever carry. And yet when it comes to art, none of that matters. This photo has tunneled into me for different reasons than her own.


Because it’s the story of a specific moment.

Her moment and my moment may have nothing at all in common, yet this picture speaks to both of us. Besides that, no one could possibly capture it the same way twice. The person in the next seat over probably didn’t even notice the scene out the window, maybe slept through it or was preoccupied with opening his peanuts.  And even if someone else did notice, the photo would be from a different angle, with a different focus, remembered for different reasons. Maybe excitement to travel exotic lands; maybe sadness from a goodbye that was left unsaid; maybe longing for a love that’s dead and in the tailwinds; maybe boredom and mp3 choices on a tedious flight.

That’s why we read, and why we write. It’s emotional inventory. We’re all just running around asking each other, “I feel this. Do you feel it, too?”

Moments are slippery things.  We have so much technology that can record them now, but there’s no true way to actually relive them.

We keep trying, but there just isn’t.

You can remember your grandmother’s house, and you can even visit the property, if you’re lucky. You can see pictures of her, but you can’t be there again cuddled up on her lap and experiencing it.  It’s over. It’s done. You can take your friends to eat at the restaurant where you held your first job, enjoy the familiar tastes and sounds, but you can’t have even a day of that lifetime, your old lifetime, back again to keep.  It’s gone.

A ratty T-shirt that smells like your old boyfriend is not your old boyfriend.

Real time is a tricky beast. And when we read of someone else’s moment and it resonates, it triggers that documenting nature we all have, artists and civilians alike.  We recognize the moment as one of our own, even when it isn’t, and suddenly, we have a piece of that missing time to hold again.

It’s not the whole thing. It never is.

But as we go along, collecting the scraps, we have a fuller picture, and more ways to hold our pasts up to the light and examine them, turn them over, look through and squint. And those pasts are what shape us. What cause us.

If I gather enough moments, either by examining my own life or congealing with things you’ve said from yours, I understand it all better. I can know. I can finally see. For me, that processing comes through choosing the right text, and to a smaller extent, snapping family photos. For someone like Kubrick, it’s film and cinematic experience. For a composer, it’s music and tempo and charge. For sculptor, maybe it’s a texture or a color, drawn from mingled influences and long ago memories.

Whatever flavor you collect your moments best in, I think that’s what we’re all doing here. It’s why I keep throwing stories of my own moments like petals out into the wind, hoping they’ll land in someone’s hair.

It’s why I need your stories.

Don’t stop writing them, and don’t skip the hard parts.

We need you too much.

And we’re waiting.


3 Responses to “Why the world needs you to write”

  1. Eileen Norman says:

    Like this. Love hearing your experience and your valuing our various attempts to “put” them out there for others, however they may relate to them.

    Good post. Where you are in your description of a change point resonates with me right now. Just beginning to embrace the new possibilities.

    Here’s to possibilities…..may they never end.

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