If I squint my eyes closed tightly, and push my dry palms into the sockets, I can see the stars colliding and far-off galaxies expanding. I can see the universe in the darkness and the silence. Try it, you’ll see. Pin pricks of light overlaid with spinning geometric patterns and psychedelic circles and hazy, globuolus orbs.
Maybe it’s just me.
Somewhere out there – in here – live the pulsating, vivid spirits that form into words.
And when I squint my eyes closed tightly and push my dry palms into the sockets, I can feel the pain and triumph and the beauty and the fear of those words as they work out who they want to be and what they want to say. They are light-years away, yet close enough to make my palms tingle and itch.
I try to make them work for me, I have tried for as long as I can remember.
The exhilaration when they cooperate is one of the most liberating experiences; to be able to lift that thin veil between this world and the next, to feel creative force surge.
I am Gaea, in union with Ouranos. Out of chaos, that shapeless heap of which Ovid wrote, I am plump with life, rounded belly bursting with the weight of expectation, calling forth the heavens as their mother.
But when they don’t – when I can’t tame them, make them behave –
Then I am Gaea, raging against the Sky, belly burning with her imprisoned sons. Giants and mythic monsters trapped within, and escape comes by the sickle and the sword – not the pen.
Failure. Words untamed. Spirit un-captured.
The fleeting wind that sometimes kicks up the dirt in this tangible world, that causes that veil to quiver, retreats. And there is always some substance missing, except a fine film of dust, a residue, a reflection.
Words march like rigid soldiers across the page, black punctures on a white screen,
left to right; left to right.
Left to write.
I hold a small collection of seashells. Once they glistened with vibrancy on the trembling shoreline. Now they are a monotone dead weight on my palm.
I pick up each shell, hold it to the sun, angle it to catch the light. Something is always missing.
The colour loses its depth.
Internal monologue is always cycling, spinning, searching for words. Psychedelic circles and hazy globulous orbs, geometric patterns and tiny pinpricks of light. The right one waits, scintillating, beyond the veil. Swirling around in disembodied ooze like amoeba, they collide, rise and fall. Coming to the forefront of my consciousness and then retreating again, out of reach and supplication.
I ruminate, but I struggle to resolve.
I wait for the suspension of time, for my mind to be still, or at least
to not be so sluggish
or to form into something a bit more concrete and tangible
with a bit less struggle,
a bit less hunting and gathering,
a bit less like the evanescent mirage where my sea shells kiss the ocean.
Yet the ocean is borne of me, too.
And the struggle will bear its own, in trying to tame what will not be tamed.
I wrestle with those words. I strive to subdue, to order, to placate them under my pen.
And they swarm.
And I am a net with too many holes.
And I am a slow-moving glacier
visibly immobile, yet powerful and unstoppable.
My strength is not obvious, but it is there.
forming intractably into meaning, into movement;
My words move silently. Onward across the page and the sky. You will not hear them in your ears but you may feel their pin-pricks, you may sense those geometric structures strung between your statues.
You may disagree with the words I choose to summon; that is your freedom.
And this freedom is mine: to speak my truth without fear of rejection, or denouncement, or provocation, or banishment, or notoriety, or fame, or conflict or resolution.
Our freedoms need not interfere with one another, or they are not true freedoms.
I am free not to mold myself into a figure of your choosing or preference.
You must know this: that I will not be tamed.
In silence my spirit lifts, and joins its sisters in the sky.
You will not control me.
You can try to silence me, but like the Sky, in Silence I find my freedom.
Though my throat is constricted, my fingers are not.
I am a jumble sale of metaphors. Tarnished silver spoons, holding memories of what once tasted sublime and other-worldly. Almost-antique dresser – with drawers camphor-stiff – retaining small fibres of exquisite cloth; and the glass that gently wears a film of fine dust – relics of the past – and only the most briefly-glimpsed spirit of the beauty it once reflected.
So I speak to the page, and the page bears only an imprint of my true voice.
“To find our sovereign voice often requires a betrayal”
What do I need betray?
You. And I won’t be sorry.
Betray the expectations others have of me. Betray those who – whether knowingly or not -would have me silenced, or tamed, or reigned in.
“True eloquence has an edge, sharp an clean.”
Too frequently I soften those edges. I soften it for you, and your feelings, and your thoughts and your beliefs, letting mine get lost in the process. Because soft is nice, and approachable, and likable.
I soften it for those who don’t share my truth
A whisper: keep your edge, define it, wield it. “Writing is always an act of faith.”
Then how is mine? How is it in this moment? Every word that falls onto the page is a step of faith.
It takes faith to start without knowing how it is going to finish. Or if it will finish at all. To not know whether these words march to the sound war or armistice.
Writing is an act of faith because I am willfully opening up a conduit from the unseen to the seen, without knowing the true intention of Who or What resides beyond.
I am partaking in a work of translation.
I am squeezing, gripping, twisting my heart and the heart of the heavens, watching the blood run, staining fingers and paper and dripping over the edges. And I will not control where it goes.
Writing is an act of faith because sometimes I have to be willing to give up control.
I am afraid of losing control.
So I will rage against this fear: of hard work and the labour of words, and of becoming a prison for hopes and un-birthed desires.
But before the world fell and I learned to play my part and to pretend, my voice was made to sing out – to cry and to rage, but also to feel the intensity of a whisper and the weight of purposed silence, the kind of silence that is a womb for creation.
From the depths of the Earth, creation brought forth by a voice in the Chaos.
To have faith in something as paradoxically unknowable as words is a terrifying thing.
And yet it matters to me, to stumble on hand-in-hand with Wild Words. Trusting them to lead me where I need to go.
It is in writing that I have found myself again.
And so that I may be found, again and again and again, in this silence
I will write.
***These discombobulated thoughts on writing and voice-finding are in response to a course I’m doing, thanks for reading and journeying with me as I process some things, even if they make no sense to you, dear reader! Writing has become my therapy, and they say that writing has the same effect on the brain as running or coffee, and can help with physical healing and recovery from mental conditions. Not to mention the dopamine release that occurs upon pushing that little blue ‘publish’ button. I’m so thankful to those who read and comment and contribute to my brain chemistry! [The two quotes above are taken from “When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice” by Terry Tempest Williams]