I actually meant to write this post before my trip to Hawaii, but didn’t have enough time, and this post definitely would have been more timely if I had.
So, maybe because I’m a writer, I believe in the power of written words, but not necessarily in the typical way, like that people can read something and be affected by it. Yeah, that’s a huge thing, but I also think there’s a much more invisible power, something ethereal and unseen, subtle.
Alice Sebold (author of novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon) talks about this in her book Lucky, a memoir which is essentially about being raped at the end of her freshman year of college, and how it all changes her life irrevocably.
I want to detour a second here to say this book is sooo excellent. I think it’s hard sometimes to write well about something so violent and devastating, and somehow Alice Sebold does it. This book is raw, so candid, so deep. There were times reading it, and actually more in parts about the aftermath, that I just wanted to cringe, or cry, because I was so there, the writing was so vivid, so insightful, so wise, and though my life has had different tragic experiences, I could relate to a lot of what she said. There are parts where the book is so poignant it’s crushing. There are other parts that made me laugh out loud. The book is very intelligent, in the regular smart way, but also emotionally intelligent. Mostly, it’s just so honest. She writes about how the attack changed her, affected friendships, relationships, her interactions with her family, especially her sister. She writes about post-traumatic stress, hyper-alertness. She writes about doing heroin in NYC after dropping out of grad school. She writes about the power of telling her story. It’s a great book.
So, back to my original train of thought here, in the book, Alice goes back to college the semester after she’s raped, and at this point, the guy hasn’t been caught, she hasn’t seen him again, she has no name, nothing. She’s taking a poetry class with Tess Gallagher, who gives her thee assignment to write a poem starting with the line, “If they caught you…” and Alice writes the poem, and exactly a week later, she sees the guy on the street, and he’s talking to a cop, so by the end of that night, she (and the police) know his name, and thus begins the arrest and trial. It could be coincidence, of course, but I think it’s just as possible that the writing of that poem started a ripple in the universe somehow.
I’ve experienced a similar thing in my own writing at times, where I’ll write about something and it’ll sort of come to life. There was a time, a long time ago, that whenever I wrote about a particular person, I would somehow hear from them. It got to be almost funny, like clockwork. I wasn’t trying to conjure this person, in fact I think if I ever sat down to write simply in the hopes of doing so, it wouldn’t work. Still, it was totally uncanny. I stopped writing about them after awhile, because it was freaky. Another time, after writing about this girl I knew and liked very much during my last semester of college, she emailed me. We hadn’t spoken in years, and the email came literally the day after writing about her, and revisiting that time in my life. Again, freaky. And again, I don’t think it would have happened if I had sat down and said, “I miss Liz, maybe if I write about her, I’ll hear from her.” I think intention has to be pure in a way, if that makes any sense. I feel I’m treading some real esoteric territory here. I just really do believe there is a silent, invisible power in putting something down in writing. Something different than the typical powers – storytelling, catharsis, connecting to other humans through the writing – I believe there’s something almost psychic in it.
And recently, it happened again. Remember when I wrote on here about living in the dispensary at camp and how magical it was in this post? Well, three days later I was supposed to meet some girls after work, and it never worked out, but in looking for them, this guy I work with told me he thought they were in the dispensary. This other guy who I work with was going to give me a ride home if I didn’t find the girls, but had to go do some stuff at his place first, so he said he’d meet me on the road behind the dispensary. So for the first time in almost three years, I walked to that building I love so much. The path there isn’t lit, and it was dark, dark, dark, so I walked along the path, using the patches of bare sky up above as a guide to know where the trees parted and to follow the path, which is something I had also written about in that blog entry.
No one was in the dispensary when I got there, which was disappointing because I never met up with the girls, but in a way, was kind of nice. I knew my ride guy would be a bit, so I just walked around inside and soaked up the niceness of being in there, the particular smell that house has. I peaked into my old room, watched the way the yellowy light landed on the wooden walls and floor, enjoyed the house. I also walked past a locked closet which I suddenly remembered was full of medical supplies, which only made me love the place even more, lol, because I am, at present, soooo fascinated by that shit.
I went outside and waited for my ride. In the dark. In the woods. Listening to the soft rumble of the Sound. Watching the waxing moon among the trees and branches. Feeling so deeply, serenely happy, inspired, full, in touch and joyous for the moment.
“In My Life” – The Beatles – Oh, how I have loved this song for so many years. I think it’s hands down my favorite Beatles song, though, oddly enough (embarrassingly enough?) I first heard this song performed by Bette Midler! Way before I discovered rock music, I used to listen to my dad’s copy of Experience The Divine in our living room, while everyone else was somewhere else, in the dark, and croon along to every word, and her cover of this song always vied for the position fo favorite. It was the last song on the album, and it always made me think of Camp Marcella, which was the blind camp I went to growing up. I know the song itself is more about a person, but I often love places as much as I love people.
Another strange coincidence is that the same day that I had my visit to the dispensary, this song (the Beatles version) came on the radio at work, and it’s maybe the only time I’ve heard it ever at work, at least it’s definitely the only time I’ve heard it since last March when I returned to working at camp, I’m sure of that. You notice when your favorite songs are played. So hearing it that day is what prompted me to download it, and thus how it came up randomly on iTunes just now. All these “currently listening” are random iTunes picks, by the way.
Anyway, I think the song is more than apropos.