“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
“There’s no such thing as a perfect piece of writing or poetry for that matter. Just as there’s no such thing as perfect despair.” So said a poet friend of mine I knew back in my adolescent years. He’s no longer with us on this spun little sphere. Well not in the physical sense. I miss him, more now than I did then. He was awfully real in a forsaken world full of fake.
It wasn’t until recently that I could grasp his full meaning, but even back then I found solace in his advice—there is no such thing as writing with perfection.
All the same, I quailed whenever I sat down to write. The scope of what I could handle was just too limited. I could write all day about the elephant in the room, so to say, but when it came to the elephant’s trainer, I was prone to draw a blank. Writing needs that kind of built-in accessory of a subplot, wouldn’t you think?
I have been caught in the web of this particular writing bind for quite sometime—twenty plus years to be exact. Now color me crazy all you would like, but that is a very long time.
If one operates on the principle that everything that happens to us can be considered a learning experience, then of course life needn’t be so damned painful. That’s what they tell us, anyway. Life though, has a way of letting pain dictate the steps in which we take.
From the day since I have picked up this pen, time and time again, I have done my best to live according to that philosophy. As I result, I have been swindled and misjudged, used and abused, day in and day out. I am though, one hundred percent guilty of doing the same, if not worse, to others. I have also done my fair share of returning these favors, in my own shameful way.
And yet still, it has brought about many strange, distorted, and wonderful experiences. All sorts of people have told me their stories, some I’ve tried to figure out on my own accord. Then they left, never to return, as if I were no more than a bridge they were crawling across to get to where they were so desperate to go.
I, however, have kept my mouth sealed shut. And so these stories have stayed with me over the years until I have found myself sitting here today, walking out, not necessarily wound free, but happily, from my very own existential crisis.
The time though, has come to shake it all off and tell my story.
This doesn’t mean, by any means, that I have resolved even a single one of my problems, or that I will be somehow different when I finish. There is a very good chance I haven’t changed at all.
In the end, writing is not always an overeager step toward self-healing, it is in my opinion, an infinitesimal step, a very exploratory move in said direction of promise. But in order to get to where I am to be—with writing I must lean into honesty.
All the same, writing with the bittersweet taste of honesty is very grim. The more I start to write honest with myself and my words, the farther we may slip into darkness, but of the dark, it is true, the only way out is through.
Don’t take this as an excuse. I promise you—I’ve been telling the story as best I have known how, and this I will continue to do. But there will always be more to add to it.
A story, like life, is much like a tree. Branches grow, and branches must be cleared. They keep growing and you must keep trimming. Some will branch out farther than you could imagine, and those are sometimes better off left to grow.
I can’t help thinking with hints of confidence—if all goes well, a time may come, years or even decades from now, when I will come to discover that my self was somehow salvaged and redeemed from these articles of my life.
The elephant in the room will then return to the veldt, and it is of my hope, that I may tell the story of the world through my very own eyes with words far more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
So with that being said, sit back, relax, and settle on in.
All roads lead to the heart; where we plunge unhesitatingly into the river of passions always flowing through life.
“Just on the edge of the forest, rises a mountain, and passed this mountain lies a lake. On this lake rests a village, to the west of the village is an island. On this island sits a blissful sanctuary with endless charming bells,” spoke the lovely woman.
The boy saw she was genuinely dressed with her own eccentricities and wore a veil of light that was covering half of her face. He had never seen her around the town before.
“Have you ever visited the sanctuary?” she asked. “Go find it. Go tell it on the mountain and tell me what you think of it?”
Captivated by the woman’s beauty, the boy climbed the mountain, and found the village by the lake. He sat down on the rocks next to the alpine lake and stared out at the horizon, but he saw only what he always saw: blue sky, sunshine, and jagged peaks.
A bit disillusioned, he walked to the nearby fishing village and asked if anyone there knew about a hidden sanctuary with beautifully ringing bells that was once situated on an island?
“That island hasn’t been around for many, many moons, since the years that our ancestors first settled here,” said an elder fisherman. “There was an earthquake, and the island was swallowed up by the mountain under the lake. Although we can no longer see the island, we can still hear the bells from that sanctuary when the lake starts churning from a summer’s wind, and the mountain below starts moaning for air.
The boy went back to the rock by the lake and tried with everything he had to hear those bells. He spent the entire afternoon of a summer’s day there by that lake, but all he heard was the gentle sigh of the waves, the sailing wind, mixed in with buzzing bees and that of an osprey’s cry.
When night fell, he was gone from home for so long that his family came looking for him. They found him on that rock and took him home.
The following morning, he went back to the rock. He was stumped that such a striking woman misled him. He thought that if she ever returned, he would tell her that while he didn’t find the sanctuary, he heard the bells bellow with the waves from the mountain moaning beneath the lake.
Months and months had passed; the woman never returned and the boy forgot all about her. He was now convinced that he needed to discover the treasure buried deep within the submerged sanctuary. If he could ever hear those bells, he would be able to reveal the sanctuary’s whereabouts and salvage what treasure was yet to be swallowed up by the mountain underneath the lake.
He lost interest in his daily routine and even in his friends so dear. He became the laughing stock of the other children’s jokes. They would say: “He’s not like us. He prefers to sit by that lake, gazing into nothing because he’s apprehensive of competing and being beaten in our games of societal influence.”
They all went to the shore to see for themselves. There he was, legs crossed and all, staring into oblivion upon the horizon. They all laughed at his expense and left him to his own devices.
Although he still wasn’t able to hear the sanctuary singing from below with the crashing waves, the boy learned about other things. He learned how to unlearn himself. He began to realize that he had become so used to the waves that they were no longer a distraction. Soon thereafter, he became habituated to the cries of the osprey, the buzzing of the bees and the wind blowing through a wilderness full of trees.
A year had passed since his conversation with the lovely woman. The boy could now rest mindless of all the other noises and distractions, but he still could not hear the bells ringing from the hidden sanctuary.
The fishermen in the village started to come by and talk to the boy, always insisting they heard the bells daily, while offering their perceived advice on how to hone in on the hope of hearing them.
But the boy never heard them.
It was some time later, however, the fisherman tainted their tune: “You’re wasting your life away thinking about those bells hidden in the depths of this lake. Forget about them and go back home to where you belong. Perhaps it’s only us fishermen who can hear the bells.”
Another year had passed, when the boy thought: “Perhaps those fishermen were right. Maybe I would do better to grow up and become a fishermen and come down to this rock of mine, because I have come to love it here.” As well he thought: “Perhaps it was just another myth and the sanctuary was destroyed by the quaking earth many moons ago and those bells haven’t truly rung since.
That afternoon, he decided to make his way home.
He walked down to his rock to say goodbye to the lake. He took in the scenery one last time that had surrounded him for so long. Because the bells no longer consumed him, his smile took to shape beneath the shining sun; he heard again the harmony within the buzzing bees, and the cries of the osprey blowing with the wind of a wilderness breeze. Far off in the distance, he heard childlike chatter, and he was glad to be becoming on his way towards his home, where he would resume his childish antics with his friends.
The boy was as happy as happy could be, as only a child can know, as he was grateful for being alive. He, as sure as shit assured himself, that he had not wasted his time. He had learned the contemplation of nature and he respected it more than himself.
Then, as he stared into the sun, with the harmony of the bees and the cries of the osprey, and as the childish voices meandered with the wind, as it blew through the forest of trees, he heard the first bell. And then there was another.
Then they came in sprawls of rhythmic beauty, until, to his great joy, all the bells in the drowned sanctuary were ringing.
A couple of years later, the boy returned to the village, a grown man. He returned to the rock by the lake. He was no longer consumed by finding the treasure in the sanctuary hidden beneath the lake. Perhaps the treasure had been a byproduct of his imagination after all, and he hadn’t really heard those sanctuary bells ringing, so loud and clear that one lost adolescent afternoon. He decided to sit and contemplate upon his rock as he had always done and listened for the other half of his soul.
Imagine his surprise, when behind him the acoustics of a crackling autumn’s leaf startled him. He turned with leisure to his wonder. He saw the lovely woman who had spoken to him about the sanctuary and the bells.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I was waiting for you,” she replied.
This time the veil was lifted, and the man felt like a boy again amongst the glow of her timeless beauty, despite the passing years, she was becoming more beautiful; much like her, the light she exuded before had not faded with time.
She handed him a dusty old notebook, filled with blank pages.
“Write: A warrior of love and wisdom values a child’s eyes since they are able to glance at the world without resentment. When he wants to find out if the person beside him can be deemed worthy of his trust, he looks to see him as a child would.”
“What is a warrior of love and wisdom?”
“We both know that you know that already,” she replied with a glowing smile. “He is someone capable of comprehending the miracle of life and its rebirth, of fighting till death for something he believes in—and when hearing the bells that rang from the sanctuary within yourself, you know He is the one who set them ringing from the depths of your soul.”
He had never thought of himself as a warrior. The woman seemed to hear his thoughts. “Everyone is capable of these things. And, though no one thinks of themselves as a warrior, there inside the depths of us, we all are.
The blankness of aromatic redemption canvassed his senses, and as he fanned through the empty pages, the woman beamed again.
“Write for the warrior,” she said.
When a man makes up a story for his child, he becomes a father and a child together, listening.