“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.” The words belong to poet Rainer Rilke. I want terribly to live them.
But I suspect it is a conviction very few of us allow ourselves to experience. I wonder if it is because we may sometimes fear beauty as much as terror. Perhaps we avoid both when we are unable to discern one from the other. And perhaps that is the trick of it all, exactly what Rilke hoped we would realize. That they can be, at times, bound together – beauty and terror happening as one. more “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.”
“Not knowing when the Dawn will come,
I open every Door.”
Emily Dickinson wrote that thought in 1884. I suspect she meant it relative to inspiration. Because she went on to finish the poem with the lines:
“Or has it Feathers, like a Bird,
Or Billows, like a Shore – ”
more “Irises and open doors.”
She said she was nine years old. She stood fingering the corners of my various books that were stacked and displayed at the edge of my table during the book-signing.
“Do you have any scary ones?” she asked with one of those half smiles to which nine-year-olds seem to hold the patent. “Ones with bad guys in them?” And then, as an afterthought: “For kids?” more “In search of the child in all of us.”
The small post on Facebook caught my eye. Probably because of the photo – of a large, wonderfully marked owl feather – an unusual find in the wild.
The woman who posted it was extremely appreciative of the way this feather had so unexpectedly entered her life, and was most intrigued with its potential meaning and intended message for her.
She and I are fond of, but not well known to, each other. And so, I began to scroll past the post as one strolls past open conversations at parties and other social gatherings.
But I was caught by her next, smaller, almost hesitant message: “Have you ever found a cardinal feather?” more “A Tale of Two Feathers.”
Quincy dog and I were out walking – working our way down some of the quiet, shade-filled streets of our neighborhood. It was one of our typical early-morning, warm-weather walks; rather sultry, sleepy, silent – both of us still a bit rumpled from our beds, still half living in our dreams, not quite across that threshold into the reality of the day.
As we approached a house we often walk past on such mornings, I stopped to admire the thick green lawn, and Quincy began to note the merits of a large pile of fresh grass clippings gathered at the curb.
Quincy loves exploring such heaps of dew-packed clumps warming in the rising sun, and sniffing out the hidden treasures waiting just below the surface. So I was prepared to be there for a while as he slowly began his excavation. more “Generosity Without Reason.”
He isn’t my closest friend. Or my oldest. He doesn’t love me best. We don’t even really belong to each other in a relationship sort of way. But in a recent conversation together – one that had taken a rather odd sidetrack off into the weeds and lost horizons of “what ifs” and “I have a fear” – he confided to me that he was afraid he was going to wind up in a home for the crazies one of these days – put away for everyone’s convenience. I responded that if that ever happened, I would come break him out. more “Shopping cart friends.”
They’re both quite happy chairs, I think. Not because of appearance – not due to look or style or finish. And they are, in fact, quite different from each other in that respect. But it is their history, their accumulated experience and energy and “spirit” (one might call it) that makes me sense their peace and satisfaction with life, and call them happy chairs. more “The Chairs.”
If summer in the South were to have a symbol, I believe it should be an ampersand. The ampersand is that quirky twist and turn of lines and curves that stands for the word “and.” more “And Summer in Aiken …”
The thrill ride begins with a jolt. It’s a combination of wooden rollercoaster and spinning teacups. It quickly reaches that not-so-sweet spot between gravity letting go and centrifugal force taking over. And the wooden rails are rotted and the teacups are cracked. And then the sound system cuts in and out with static and white noise and metallic clanging, jungle drums and jumbled voices. I see my arms, but they aren’t mine. My legs disconnect. My breathing stops, unable to resume. My heart is punched and crushed somewhere below my chest. more “Panic in Pink.”
“Writers are indecent people. They live unfairly – saving the best part for paper.”– Charles Bukowski
I think most writers understand instinctively that they are meant to be writers, storytellers. I suspect that the stories are already there inside – like secret libraries in our souls, or hundreds of scrolls tucked into our hearts. more “The Storyteller.”