I enjoy writing and sometimes wish it came with the same ease music does. I write for clarity and sing for release. After I stepped out of a hot bath where I completed reading a book (my favorite activity), I recalled something I wrote many years ago. A slave novel. It started out as a joke when a friend and I sat in the Company Gardens in CT. ‘Who would you and I be three hundred years ago?’ I asked him.
That set my imagination ablaze. I took everyone I knew and anchored them to an imaginary past. My best friend became the healer who haunted our family back into remembering. My sister was transformed into a alcoholic who drunk to keep the visions of the past and future from colliding and driving her insane. My brother,a faithless slave who was beaten close to death at every attempt at escape. He found redemption and purpose when converting to Islam. My Mother magically became the celebrated cook, whose murder turned the small world of the farm upside down. And I could sing and was doomed to fall in love with a man who did not have the courage to love me back. I fled with a Frenchman in the end. Haha!
When I write now I use Gilda, founding member of TLC Alzheimer’s Home, for whom I am the ambassador, as the main narrator. Gilda ties everyone’s stories into something coherent. Gilda and I adopted each other and I call her ‘Moedertjie’ ( Little Mother)when she can’t hear me. I turn everything into stories and then music. She knows this and always pretends to be shocked when I don’t have my notebook close by.
I believe firmly that we weave our own mythologies. Perhaps we are the jilted lover who carries bitterness secretly while smiling at the outside world. Or the underdog who is determined to prove everyone wrong or the guy with a savior complex bent on saving everyone but himself. All these small stories we carry around. I have heard many speakers say that once we change our stories we can change the nature of our reality. When home I spend a great amount of time speaking to Gilda, trying to catch small stories to jot down in my book. I do that with people I love. It’s a way of remembering, of honoring them in the few ways I know how best to.
Today she looked at me and said, ‘Angel child, all you need to do is know your truth and the peace that comes with it. Not all truths can be shared. Or even if they are it doesn’t mean it will be understood ‘ And I had such an ache to be understood for so long. Only now do I know that it’s because I didn’t know the contents of my own heart that well.
Most people who have loved me or still do, fail to understand how my heart operates. For a while it bothered me. It no longer does. Desires change just like our internal narratives do. It is a choice we can make consciously. The problem is that many times we fail to, for whatever reason. Circumstances can fling us back into an imaginary past or a delicious future.
All we can do is make sense of what we can. Find meaning where we are able to and nurture the love within us. Even if we feel broken and misunderstood. Even if we are convinced we might never feel the joy of being deeply loved by another.
Sometimes I think we are all just seeds planted on this piece of dusty earth… and it’s the love we find within ourselves and others, our eternal sun, that allows us to emerge from hard ground and…bloom.
Or I could be mad. And wrong.