There’s a circle of women, heads bent down to their journals, pens in hand. Each writer is navigating her own way of living an examined life and finding the words with which to gain understanding, to make something tangible and, maybe, beautiful of her days. Sitting down, out of the bustle of the day, she can discover the stories and poems located in the mix between experience and memory, mind and heart, imagination and language, and longing, oh, yes, longing. Where is the story I am living? Ah, yes, here it is, in this word and that brought together for the first time, here. Now.
How does what happened ten years ago connect to that which occurred just yesterday? What of the boy she can’t forget? What of the way those trees brushed against that window in that tiny cabin? The day gone but not gone. Our pens release their ribbons of ink in the notebooks we hold on our laps.
This particular group is comprised of women who are in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and one woman who will turn 80 next week. One writer has long hair and bangs that touch her eyebrows. Another has a laugh that’s chest deep and rumbles. One writer’s face is brown; the woman on the couch is fair. This writer rents her mountaintop home; another owns the house she lived in with her husband for many years and lives there still though he has died.
Here’s what never stops startling me; time and time again, through all the years I’ve offered writing workshops: the hidden, invisible, important truths that the paper will accept when we write them down. One person tells of her child who died at the age of three, recalling the smallest things about her toddler-hood, how 40 years ago, she ran so fast on such chubby legs. The daughter may be gone, but not really, she lives in a writer’s memory and story. Another writer’s voice breaks at the mention of her son who’s lived through 4 deployments to the Middle East. Someone writes of alcoholism.
Within all of us, there are stories of the difficulties we’ve had to work through, the sorrows we live with. How little the face may convey and how much the stories will. Then, once told, once the paper holds our truths, they live more lightly in us, making the ways of our lives a bit easier, a bit less weighted, more room for magic and beauty to get in.