This blog was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook the other morning. It was an article highlighting an artist in San Francisco, California, who creates art in sand on the beach at low tide. “A Man Takes A Single Rake To The Beach. And When You Zoom Out and See It…Mind Blown.” What spoke to me, though, wasn’t so much the article but what was said by the person who shared the post. My great friend, Rob Guthrie, commented: “To enjoy the CREATION of your art enough to not mind when the tide washes it away a few hours later—well, that’s true love.” He–nailed–it.
I have always enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. Like for everyone else, it started with cereal boxes and children’s books…but I suppose when those ran out and I began to thumb through our set of World Book Encyclopedias, my parents, who were the most frugal people I’ve ever known (and since the encyclopedias was that era’s version of the world-wide-web, harboring within the pages definitions and pictures no eight-year old should be exposed to) put together enough money to buy a set of Companion Library Books. Thirty books, each containing a fable or other time-honored children’s classic. I devoured them. From Huckleberry Finn, to The Arabian Nights; Robinson Crusoe to Little Women; Treasured Island to The Call of the Wild. I was in my own small piece of heaven when I opened those covers. If it was a real page-turner, after bedtime, I would crawl from under the covers and sit beside the nightlight to finish reading a page, or a chapter, or the book itself. I never did get caught, although by the time I was twelve, I needed glasses.
A little older and my reading world expanded again when every other Saturday, my best friend and I would ride our bikes to the church in our neighborhood and wait in the parking lot for the new bookmobile to arrive. It wasn’t too long after that, a library was built close by and from there, I never looked back. Books became, and still are, a constant part of my life.
I’m not sure exactly how old I was, but one day in my teenage years I picked up a spiral notebook, untouched with no school notes yet, and I began to write. Not a daily diary, but rather a journal of my thoughts. There was no order or schedule I adhered to – it was my go-to whenever I was troubled, or excited, or just contemplating; I’d pull it out from underneath my mattress and put in my own words, what I hoped I could look back at later and remember. Some entries were deep, some silly, some that didn’t make any sense at all except at the time I was jotting it down, other thoughts I purposefully added just so when I did get older I would be able to look back and have sympathy and an understanding of what a teenager went through, so convinced was I that after a certain age, adults forgot and remembered nothing of what it felt like to be a kid.
It didn’t take too long to realize that I loved to write. I escaped when that pen was in my hand, into a world all my own. No judgments, no criticism, no failures or disappointments.
Later, instead of keeping a journal, I wrote letters. There have been letters of anger where I raged with my feelings of betrayal and bitterness that were never delivered to the guilty party; letters of what I hoped to be wisdom I’d accumulated and given to a loved relative at a significant milestone in their life; letters of disappointment, fear, and loss of hope written to myself. What I discovered, is that somehow through each letter written in anger I became stronger; each letter penned with advice, showed me I really did know more than I thought; and, through each letter that dealt with hopes and dreams, I found who I really was. Every major decision I have ever made, was usually preceded with a letter(s) of “Pros and Cons”. Without fail, when I was finished, looking at it in black and white, the decision I needed to make was there in front of me.
Writing…whether a letter, an email, a blog, or a book, is where my true self comes out. No doubt, it can be difficult at times to get thoughts to paper, especially if you’re working a scene that you know is missing something but then when it comes to you, it’s akin to finding that puzzle piece that fell under the table. You pick it up and it just slides right into that spot made for it and all is well with the world again.
Unfortunately, that journal I mentioned where I found my love for writing didn’t survive to make the journey with me into the present. When moving into our first home with my (then) husband, he found and read it while I was at work one day. And, to say he didn’t like some of the things he read is an understatement. I stood at the kitchen window and watched as the Bic lighter dipped inside the metal garbage can in our back yard that night and a soft orange glow began to emanate from within.
While I am not one to hold grudges, remembering that night I just want to call him up on the phone right now and tell him what a fishstick he was for doing that. But then again, perhaps I’ll write a letter instead…
Like that journal, there are and still will be, other words, letters, stories even, I write that I doubt anyone will ever see and the time may come when the tide takes them, too, away. I won’t mind. I created it and it made a difference in me and for however long it existed, it soothed my soul.