This morning in my garden I turned on the soaker hoses and pulled weeds under the light mist they give off. It’s a nice place to ruminate about things I store up for later. Pulling weeds from the earth also pulls weeds from my mind and soon what is truly there is exposed and I can no longer pretend it’s not.
Digging around in my head trying to find words that still belong to me has become a struggle. I have written in another voice for some time now and I find I have become drawn to this murmur just below the surface, like a moth to a flame. I hear the sound and the words are there as paragraphs form in my head. I don’t even have to think about it.
No one is complaining. In fact, everyone is exuberant. The problem is that I don’t know how much, if any of it, is me, or if it’s all me, or none of me. I don’t know. I’m not sure I even want to explore that yet. The murmur has become the heartbeat of my writing and I’m afraid that without it, this new skin I have grown will peel away and once again I will be vulnerable.
The murmur teased the edge of my thoughts. As more weeds left the ground so did my defenses. I let them down and everything rushed in.
Memories of events I let rest bubbled to the surface. Junctures in my life that I try everyday to cover over with dirt and plant a flower on. But there it is again. A face that is no longer smiling, eyes that have stopped loving me and a life I will never know. It’s still all there stored in those metal boxes all stacked neatly in the corner. You know the ones. It takes two keys to open them and you hope it will all be forgotten in your safety deposit box. You can tell yourself that your heart is now impregnable because there will never be another key. That box will never be opened again.
Well, then someone inherits the other key and there you are, wearing a matching skeleton around your neck.
I freely offer that part of my life because my one hope is that they will take a look inside and know that this is not the end. Am I triumphant in this diversion? Or have I deceived myself? If what I have done is in the spirit of comfort, than why does it hurt so much for me to look in that box?
It hurts. Nothing about the contents of that box is perfect, and the flaws do not disappear with time. The lessons tucked away in the corners that I have learned are all still in there. I know what a mess I’m going to make of myself once it opens. The loss, the anger, the fear and the loneliness are too real to be ignored.
I spiraled. I couldn’t stop it and I tried. I was submerged, clawing my way to the surface of that damn box, sharing something most precious, hoping that someone would be there to grab my hand the second it broke the surface. But they weren’t there. They had come and gone before I even finished. Like a bee in a flowerbed, they had moved to the next blossom and left me alone, drenched and standing in the weeds.
So I cried. Then I shook it off like a dog fresh from a river of tears. I closed the box once more, with a new resolve and hung the key around my neck. If I told you it’s not very heavy and never gets in the way, would you believe me?
It is the key to my heart. It’s just like yours.
When my vision cleared I was completely lost. I was completely empty. What do I have left in me that needs to be said, written, or shared? Do I have enough words for anything I write to even make sense? I’m not a tortured writer, but it seemed my metaphorical writer’s pockets were filling with stones and a walk to the ocean beckoned. Just throw it away. Stop trying to make sense. Never write another word.
They are only words after all.
How did I get here?
Then I heard it.
As soft as the mist in my garden, it calls to me. The words form in my head. They tumble and they fall into place and paragraphs appear. The ground frees a weed and I am writing in my head, as clear as the seeds I planted manifest, so does my story. I don’t know if what I’m hearing is a muse, or if it truly is another dimension of me, but it is there and the sound is sweet.
There are reasons you are put to the task at times in your life. The paths we take and the decisions we make once we are in the bowels of despair are the ones that will shape the rest of our time here. It took me years to realize that I was not alone out here and that my pain might lessen if I did just one simple thing…unlocked my heart and loved someone even if it hurt too much to love myself.
I will love.
I will plant those seeds.
I will write.
And I will howl at the moon.