Hell yes, I will come on your yoga and meditation retreat. I will meet you where I meet myself. I will sing loudly on the way up the mountain. Yes I am of Generation X. I still know all of Dark Side of the Moon by heart.
I am still growing up. It’s fun, remember? It’s also great to go nowhere be seen by no one answer to no one. I will listen to NPR and my books on tape, and I will stop to think and forget to get going again. Yes, turning into my mother (still) wild and earthy hippie she is.
I will laugh about the permanent bruise on my hip because where is my body in space? Where are we anyway?
I will dance with my child and sip coffee and fill in the boxes. crossword and Sudoku. bliss. leisure.
I cannot sit still just like my 5th graders. I need to hold a fidget spinner. My brain at times won’t stop. I will pull at the weeds and not plant anything this year. The garden will volunteer tomatoes. And maybe a pumpkin.
There is a cardinal. Home for a while. I will walk and walk even though my arch hurts and my heel hurts and I stretch beyond what I thought possible. That adjustment in me has yet to come.
I am bold. I speak my mind. I am hard on myself. And then I am not. I get lazy then busy then I just cannot deal with the world.
I love the routine but I want a shake up. I am still that girl on the train. Running that race, swimming the lake, learning guitar. Singing and singing with all my heart.
I am still losing my tent at a music festival. I am still playing house too soon. I am dancing in a light up hula hoop in my wedding dress. I am still lost and totally and completely one hundred percent myself.
Thank you for reading. My name is Samantha. I teach 5th graders everything from Language Arts to How to Be a Good Human. I also teach creative writing classes, workshops, and lessons. I still want to be a writer when I grow up.
your official statement on this issue your seething gas-lighting comedy act obscene and vile as if your actual chastisement gains anything you are not her teacher her grandfather her anything
try humility on for size say the words well done! congratulations! genius! the youth will save us! I want to strive to be you when I grow up! you are a role model for generations to come! what an inspiration! listen to the children!
yet she is another flick of ash in your way discarded and discounted disqualified by you a bug on the windshield a little girl on a swing set
she’s got her eye on you your criticism crying and complaining for a half a second before casting you into the ocean some debris to steer around for better things to do with her time
take your seats the lights are low plenty of space behind the curtain it is a curation desert an empty gallery
that’s art? you ask you like to push time so what did you do Saturday Squanderer he said, practice this chord until your fingers bleed
like learning to whistle she said, you might pass out through your fingers more air, less tongue mean it make it echo to call the dogs off the mountain to hope they don’t come home skunked again or worse, quill-nosed or not at all
find a rock so you can brag about your ability to manifest crystals imposter on a trail what was it all for
you won’t go through that velvet opening your hands are too tired for the heaviness of that drapery or for what the audience might not see
“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Why am I a writer?
If I could spend most of my days writing, in chosen isolation, I probably would. But why? (And why can’t I? That is a different topic for another time).
Today I am going to explore a few of the many of the reasons why I write.
I write to begin.
To prepare the garden bed, I must weed. I must pull and dig, clear away death and debris, find who made a home among the thistles, and encourage them to leave. I must turn over the earth and find the deep-rooted and stubborn weeds, as even in their home’s destruction, they will still find a way to hoard the nutrients.
In this preparation, I find the tree frog and the praying mantis. I find what grasses will cut my fingers in my unwillingness to wear garden gloves. I am surprised by the snake and the orb-weaver and the wonderment of their gorgeous markings. I am forced to look at what went untended, in order to clear for the new.
Writing is like this. Even when not putting pen to page or fingers to keys, writing is like this.
I write to witness, document, and honor being alive.
Writing is a magical, sensory experience. Through writing I organize and remember, manifest, and connect. I can hear harmony in the humming of the street lights. I am aware of the shift in the seasons, a winter hint in summer or an autumn glimpse in spring. I see more in people’s eyes. I can tell when someone hasn’t had the turn to speak, or when a voice has not been heard. I have become an empath, for better or worse. I have turned around a corner to smell the ghost of my grandfather, gone some 30 years.
I write to access my emotions.
I fear my own rage and my deepest trauma of sorrow. To surface these parts of me, at times I fear, would rattle the house and crack the earth wide open. My expression of my emotions do not actually have that much power, but they are pushed away regardless. But in writing, I can feel them safely. A character, a poetic phrase, a memory twisted into metaphor can bring tears and trembling. I can access the childhood sadness and the immense joy of simply being alive. To write is to live. To live is write. Writing is the breath and heartbeat of my wildest and most basic needs.
I write to read.
I often remind my students to read like a writer and write like a reader. This doesn’t always make sense to them. I think about the human experience: real, known, unconscious, and nebulous. When I am writing and thus reading, I look for the many ways people experience life. In the communication of our shared journey, we are not alone.
I write to read how you, the writer, might have lived through loss, shame, victory, darkness, evil, and redemption. I read to write about how I have lived through decisions, parenthood, eating disorders, anxiety, deep love, consistency, mental illness, loss, debt, sorrow, confusion, and awakening. I write and read to honor writers and all of the common and strange ways we are human.
Author’s note: This is the beginning of my thoughts on this. Yesterday, the world lost another beautiful person to cancer. I will miss my friend Grace, who was a shining light to so many people. She had the most courage and strength of anyone I have ever known. And as a former teacher of both her children, I will stand protector of them, even if from afar, forever.