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I cannot write. The computer’s cursor blinks on a blank page. I struggle for the first word, hoping a fairy muse waves her wand, revealing a complete, compelling opening sentence. Perhaps, my mind might come alive with an idea. Any idea. Words, sentences, whole paragraphs elude me. What you are reading is a stream of consciousness. I don’t think this is writer’s block because I’ve just completed the outline, prologue, and first six chapters of my next book, a mystery novel. Then, I stopped in the middle of a dialogue between the two main characters. It was going well, yet I stopped.
I turn to Wendell Berry’s vast poetry collection in search of inspiration. I land on a page captivated by the last line in one of his Sabbath poems. Collection. I am overcome with his ability to express a concept with elegant simplicity: We live the life given, and not the planned. Oh, but do we not have choices? Yes, we do. Are our choices ‘the given’ or ‘planned’? And how does our free will relate to given and planned? This one line of verse holds layers, questions, debates. I cannot write like Berry or any other consummate writer, nor is this my aspiration. However, I have a writing voice, which presently appears to be on vacation. I depend on that voice to inspire my readers and stir something deep within. And though I’ve said this through the years, it remains a heartfelt intention for not only my writing but my art.
My dilemma may be that our beleaguered world seemingly demands writing of import and relevancy accompanied with graphs and statistics. But, this is not my way. I gravitate toward the inner self and its inter-being—how one relates to and functions amidst dysfunction, sadness, joy. I add confusion, too. I gave serious thought to framing an essay about guns and non-violence—and the pervasive violence in our nation today. Wendell Berry’s poem upon which I was going to build the narrative said it all. Berry captured not only the bones but the marrow of what violence does to our souls and to the psyche of our world.
Before we kill another child for righteousness’ sake, to serve some blissful killer’s sacred cause, some bloody patriot’s anthem and his flag, let us leave forever our ancestral lands, our holy books, our god thoughtified to the mean of our smallest selves. Let us go to the graveyard and lie down forever among the speechless stones.
Anything more I could write would be dreck. My essay about non-violence is still in a zip file, hiding in the corner of my mind. I can say that the words and sentences, which form paragraphs, will return to me. I know this based on experience. However, we have come full circle to my initial plight and the last line in Berry’s poem, life given, not planned. I see they are linked. For now, the given for me is to rest and accept what is not coming my way as I planned.
Since we’ve had no snow, I’ve curated winter scenes photographed from 2007 through 2021 for The Gallery. At the moment, however, the sunset sky turned from leaden clouds to a deep, fire red. There is not enough light for my camera to capture this moment, though it blazes in my mind. Perhaps, just perhaps, the moment will find its way into a painting.
Wishing you peace within, health, and joy, always!
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