I have considered a number of titles for this post. I have thought endlessly about using other people’s words to attract your attention. I thought maybe a play on So Long A letter (1981) a title of the only book published by Miriam Ba, paired with, because I love pairs, Junot Diaz’s This is how you lose her (2012), replacing lose with love of course, would be a perfect dish commenting on how we relate to each other and ourselves as men and women. How do we love? Where do we even begin the conversation when she doesn’t know what love looks like and he doesn’t know what love feels like?
So Long, A letter: This is how you Love her
I thought I could use my own personal experience which this blog has been about for the past five years. I wanted to use Zadie Smith’s eloquence to finally reveal myself to myself at the same time as I reveal this self to you. I thought I could re-use her words which she said in a conversation about what makes any fiction writer good; honesty: lying to tell the truth. But I wasn’t sure I could actually do that with without reproducing the contents of my daily journal – raw as it is, to you. Still I don’t want to be that honest with you, and pretending that I am is also dishonest because honestly what is the truth really? Who knows this truth if I don’t?
Honesty: Lying to tell the truth
Truth led me to think about knowledge and if what we know is always truthful? Are our experiences without fault? Or does it depend from which and with what perspective we are looking at something, someone or an event? How about the imagination? The stories we invent? If we can write real events and call them fiction, what then is non-fiction? So staying with Zadie Smith I thought perhaps I could go with a single headline this time with no pairings: Complete Knowledge is Impossible. I thought perhaps we can agree that this is as close to the truth as we shall ever get, since and you will excuse the repetition here, more knowledge is always possible but what we know is never complete. But then of course I had to think about why it is I am writing to you now. As I dug deeper, the words of Sufi Master Rumi, began to haunt me begging me to repeat them out loud to you, to be, here’s that word again, honest, because he wrote what I often feel: ‘Everyday this pain, either you’re numb or you don’t understand love. I write out my love story. You see the writing, but you don’t read it’
Complete Knowledge is Impossible
When I find myself each week deep in the ocean, diving in, searching for words, letters and phrases overwhelmed with picking just the right one so that you and the person next to you can read me and perhaps find some resonance. I can’t help but wonder if it is all worth it. Not because no one is reading, but because maybe I think this one particular person who matters to me is not. Junot Diaz said something which I agree with; you write to explain and describe your world to yourself but always with the hope that someone will join you in your journey.
In this way writing has been my hope for another tomorrow. Perhaps I have not always sat studiously at the desk adding words diligently together to form that perfect phrase or paint a perfect picture, but in every moment of every day, I write. When I walk I’m writing, when dancing or talking I am writing. Everything I do is about writing, can I write about this? How can I tell a story about washing a car? Making tea? Being so drunk. Or sweeping the driveway. Every object I touch is a story, when I am washing dishes each plate is a character, women having a bath, a party of five, all the kitchen utensils are constantly having conversations about stories I must write.
Those Sweet Words
Recently I was reminded of one the most moving prose-poems I have ever read The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (1999), which comprises of a series of questions which I have tried to answer by fully living them. I’ve looked like a fool for love, for my dream and the adventure of being alive. Until I arrived at the very beginning. A place where I am no longer defined by what I have or what I do.
In the Invitation
And so despite being a woman of many, many, words, it has been my experience that some of the best and most defining moments in my life have occurred without too many of them. The most poignant and beautiful memories have remained undocumented, unrecorded, unwritten, unsaid, pictured or televised. They have not been described, analysed or scrutinized. There is no evidence. No proof. No paper trail, no data to measure their validity, value or worth.
Since the day I heard the words which described the shape of my heart, I have been rendered utterly speechles, not because I was unwilling to speak. But because I was simply unable to express in words the joy I felt inside, because I didn’t know that I didn’t know what real joy feels like. I drove myself crazy analysing facts and being rational. Trying to describe and explain infinity. I now understand what everyone who has ever said follow your heart actually meant.
Nothing Works Until You Do
I have sat in silence alone with myself and have learnt to love the company I keep when nothing is happening. When I’m listening, I can accept and enjoy life for what it is, in that very moment not what it pretends to be. In this way all my words have been reduced to one. For your ears only.