I’ve known Erin for many years when we each had lives that seemed to be going in vastly different directions than they are now. She wore her hair in long braids down her back and carried a classical guitar. Now she’s short-shorn and a master fly fisher and fly tier, and I am so proud of how she’s built the life she wants. I also find her to be a lyric, insightful writer, so please enjoy her post as must as I enjoy her.
Iâ€™ve always had words. Too many words. A cranial cabinet of spices. Too many smells. A stomachache of the head â€“ like that feeling you get after eating at a buffet. Too many things mixing together. Itâ€™s overwhelming, opening spice cabinet doors. You donâ€™t know what to pick. Well, you did know, right before you opened the door. But now? Distraction. Is paprika really the right choice?
Itâ€™s overwhelming, entering and entertaining my thoughts â€“ yet, through a single word, through formulating sentences and through writing, I am able to take one at a time. In darkness I sit and open the cabinet, closing my eyes to smell –giving attention to each one. Blinded, smell gives sight; and with a full mind, writing gives the same.
When I was a kid, as long as I was reading literature it was considered to be education and I was left alone — in my imagination, in my world. Schoolwork could wait. So could chores. And I am forever thankful for these times; for these internal intellectual tÃªte-Ã -tÃªtes. My eyes devoured words and ideas, too old at times, for my young eyes. I encountered Words Not Allowed through John Steinbeck’s East of Eden; the art of flirtation through Jane Austen; and blushed my way through D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover. I wondered whether my mom would continue recommending these classics, had she read them herself. I didn’t want to ask though. I enjoyed blushing.
I read on.
I filled my head with words in order to think — in order to make sense of the world. And it turns out, in order to write. I write, because writing is what enables me to think…to see thoughts. I see the world in words, just as some see colors in music. My own form of synesthesia, and writing harmonizes the dissonance.
Madeleine L’Engle said, “We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think.” My thoughts are overactive, and they fuel and are fueled by words. Itâ€™s exhausting. But I canâ€™t stop. Itâ€™s my cheap drug, my therapy for dealing with life. Maybe my thoughts are overactive because of too many words piled up inside â€“ a constipation of consonants. And writing isâ€¦.well, I shall follow that analogy no further…
Just now though, I am beginning to understand myself â€“ although Iâ€™ve always known myself — and warm to the fact that I need to write. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads or not. I used to think that it did matter…that if no one read, it was worthless. Erin, youâ€™re wasting your time, the doubting devil on my left shoulder would say. But he is wrong. Itâ€™s not a waste.
A tree falling in the woods still makes a sound. And I’ve discovered that if I don’t let my thoughts fall and find their place, if I do not stack them, piling them to age and perhaps eventually be burned, my thoughts rot. And not silently either. Thus, I make noise. Hands, pecking at the keyboardâ€™s dirt, pouring thoughts out…my mind silencing with each stacking key stroke.
Silencing, but never emptying. There are always, always, too many wordsâ€¦
Erin M Block is a librarian in Boulder, CO, where she wows the world with her cataloging skills. On her weekends, she is mastering the art of fly fishing in Colorado streams, and she writes regularly at Mysteries Internal, a blog to which you should immediately subscribe.