Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Way It Starts

Sometimes it can start with an image--a red apple held in your father's hand, say, or the weathered wall of a wooden barn in Wisconsin.

Sometimes you aren't given an image at all but a word--raisin, for instance, or magenta, or owl, or hope.

Sometimes it can begin with silence, with the sound of your breath, with nothing but a blank sheet of paper waiting beneath your pen.

You have a choice.

You can sit for years complaining about why you have nothing to write, nothing to say.

Or you can learn to sit with silence, waiting.

It isn't until you learn how to sit and accept the silence that you can begin to hear words singing beneath the silence and see how they fit together to form phrases, sentences, paragraphs, pages.

It takes a good deal of patience to learn how to do this, how to sit this way for weeks and months, listening to the silence rather than running from it and from whatever might be scaring you.

When you start out, no one will tell you that you need courage or a reservoir of hope or faith in your own ability. (When I started out, I was told all I needed was a typewriter.)

No one will tell you how the blank pages will remain blank day after day with stories left untold, or how the silence of the blank page will haunt you on days when words refuse to come.

If you persist, though, and can find courage and hope and patience and faith, you'll discover a part of yourself that you never knew existed.

If you persist, you'll discover stories hidden inside you which have the power to reaffirm your belief in life, in the world, in those around you.

You'll find the energy of life that runs through all beings, all stories, so you can feel connected to something larger than yourself.

First, though, you must sit with the silence and wait.