Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Word-a-day Writing Challenge

Day Sixty: Ecstasy

Robert had little patience with these introspective bouts of mine. He never seemed to question his artistic drives, and by his example, I understood that what matters is the work: the string of words propelled by God becoming a poem, the weave of colour and graphite scrawled upon the sheet that magnifies His motion. To achieve within the work a perfect balance of faith and execution. From this state of mind comes a light, life-charged.

—Patti Smith, Just Kids

When young writers ask me what they should be writing about, I always say the same thing: Write about what you can’t get rid of by other means...Your obsessions aren’t there simply to fill your mind and heart with junk. They are the deepest forms of human meaning, even if they seem frivolous or shameful.

—Steve Almond, Let Obsession Be Your Ally: Be Haunted By It

On Wednesday I went to Kensington Market with a friend. We sat outside Ideal Coffee smoking and talking politics and design. It was overcast but warm. Calm. A man in rubber boots and cargo shorts wandered through the street strumming his guitar and singing random, mismatched lyrics. His lean and casual confidence was comforting somehow. A young woman swooped around him on an old red Schwinn and he paused for just a moment, calling out to her. Wow! You're like Laverne and Shirley all in one! As she sailed past us with wavy elegance and long, easy bicycle strides, his gentle guitar notes reached after her.

Beautiful, he said. Just beautiful.

You told me once that I was easy to please, but I am just as dissatisfied as the rest of us. Riddled with the complexity of being human---what to do, where to be, how to occupy my hands. If you were here right now, I would wrap myself around you, kiss your neck with open lips and pull you into something we both might want. But you are not here. And as I watched that bicycle ride away, I knew you never could be.

In you it was a way of being that I sought, not a kind of love. I wanted to stop pacing the corridors of my life searching for the thing that would quiet me. I wanted simplicity and wonder. Ecstasy in everyday things: the smell of coffee through an open door, a patio that looks onto a street in which beautiful people are living their lives under common circumstances. I wanted to sit somewhere I had never been, or somewhere I'd always been, and to appreciate. I wanted to find the courage to choose love over fear in every moment. I thought I could learn it from you. It never occurred to me that I could just sit somewhere, feel the longing, and allow myself to be amazed.

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