Wednesday, August 26, 2015
On converging stories and hearing voices
I grew up with an intermittent longing to play piano. Not until I got older, however, did I hear songs - or snatches of them - in my head, like the words on the tip of the tongue, not quite formed. If I was near a piano, I would sit down and let my fingers rest on the keys, poised between mounting desire and frustration, consumed by my inability to give musical expression to what I was hearing.
Sometimes, the same is true with writing. The difference is, it carries a heavier weight, deeper pain, greater cost, to not find expression. Instead of hearing music, I hear voices; voices inaudible to all but the ears of the soul. These days, the core of who I am feels inextricably bound with giving voice to what I'm seeing, hearing, sensing, in the world around me and how it intersects with mine.
I grasp for words, not unlike I've done many times as a writer in the past. And at the same time, utterly unlike any grasping in the past.
There's an urgency to what I find myself compelled to write.
There's an overwhelming lack of words to wrap around it all, to know where to even begin.
There are two stories converging, parallel voices. I am seeing the transition and turmoil of my inner world reflected back to me in the natural world I fiercely love. It's as if we're both groping along in the dark, clasping hands tight, in this journey together for better or worse. To hear one speak is to know, in some facet, a curve of the other, for we belong to each other. But I am the one with a voice that carries through the noise of a human-centric world.
And there's confusion and fear, over whether it should all tumble out as a rant or dirge, prophet or poet, mystic or madwoman, another voice drowned out among the many. As if there's only one way this voice should sound, instead of the natural rise and fall of inflection and tone and cadence and style that voices tend to have throughout the telling of a story.
It feels too big, too vulnerable, too painful, too unresolved. Too sacred to do justice to the depths of beauty and raw ugliness of it. So much so, these days, I don't even want to try.
It's a magnificent, terrifying racket in my soul and I fear that, sitting down to write it, I'll once again find my fingers on the keys with no sound coming out.
But still, I try. I begin here, and I begin again and again, as many times as it takes to start. And when words fail, as they often do, I come with pictures.
These images come from one of my favorite places in all of Seattle, down by a corner of the lake in the neighborhood I call home. After a mild, dry winter and a hot, dry summer, we are in the midst of drought, ravaged by numerous wildfires in other parts of the state. I choose to let these have the final words of this post today, as I have no way of wrapping things up neatly.
And neither do they.