no idea

right now, you are packing lunches. another round of goodbyes and i love you’s.

and since i’m seeing you, soon, i perhaps should get dressed. but also, i want to respond before we chat all my responses away. (impossible?)

i love that you can say what isn’t – and in the process bring to light what is.

i woke up this morning to this question, posed by a friend:

When you write do you feel like you say what you want to say?

and my answer was: no. no, of course not.

she and i have discussed this before, in different terms. talked about the fact that you can get to this age without “knowing who you are.” that somehow that question can still send us into a tailspin. that somehow, after all this time, we should really “know ourselves.”

and, i think writing is a way to get there. it is one open door. it is one level deeper, one more crack to let things out, to let light in.

so partly, i don’t say what i really want to say because i’m too scared.

but partly, i don’t say what i really want to say because i have no idea what that is.

all i know is that i am just scratching the surface. scraping away some paint. maybe tearing off some old wallpaper.

but i want to be the kind of writer that strips the house to its bones. that exposes the old lathe and plaster. i want to pull up the old, yellowed newspapers, tucked in the crannies for insulation, and read their headlines. i want to take a sledgehammer to the facade, lay bare the foundation. i want to know what’s in there. what’s in here.

but maybe this gentler beginning is okay. one afternoon, when i was in high school, my sister and i decided to tear the drooping wallpaper off our living room. it was so satisfying. we did all the easy bits. all of the obvious bits. we ripped the flowery paper off about 34% of the room. and then we left it.

for 6 years.

sometimes i feel like i’ve figured something out. probably less than 34%. and now i am just sitting here, half exposed, with no idea what story lies beneath.

i’ve been thinking about brene again, for next sunday. thinking about:

“courage is telling the story of who you are with your whole heart” – brené brown

how do you get to know your whole heart? with its contradictions and edges and shadowy corners? how do you learn to trust it? to trust the story, to trust the message. how do you learn to embrace yourself “wholeheartedly”? how do you trust the unfolding?

anyway, i didn’t set out to write another “who am i?” letter – you’ve got a whole scrapbook of those meandering thoughts.

but, back to the earlier question – maybe i write to start to learn what it is i actually want to write about. that somehow, the process of writing can be the revealing spiral. deepening or widening consciousness. that somehow, through this journey, more is revealed. more is made known, even to myself. (and sometimes, more can be concealed, words can just as easily hide as expose).

so thank you for joining on this journey! for your patience with my wandering. and for your willingness to peel back the layers. to spiral deeper.

it is funny that the answer to our questions are there. are here. within us.

(also funny that sometimes we don’t even know what to ask, let alone know the answers)

and sometimes they bubble up as tears. and sometimes they come out as words. but there is a deep knowing. somewhere after that rilke quote about “patience with all that in unresolved” there is a line about what is moving within us, deep beneath the surface, things that come out as realizations long after they’ve actually made their home in our subconscious (rilke, of course, says it much better). i’d find the quote for you if all my belongings weren’t in boxes or locked apartments. but you get the idea…

with you,

on the journey.



One thought on “no idea

  1. I marvel at the way you two write to one another. You friendship is so obvious and I envy it.
    I think this is the quote you were looking for- “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
    ― Rainer Maria Rilke
    The first time I read this quote I received from a staff member who had had a stroke (at 30 years of age and would never teach again) and I was struck by the statement “And the point is, to live everything”. I shared it at commencement with many of the students who new her and I think it was one of the most important things I have ever shared with a group of teenagers.
    Thanks for you letters and thanks for the reminder of this quote. Murray


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