“An afternoon of conversation with the esteemed author” is what it was called. It was to be a workshop, a listening, a reception and a reading. I was generously given the opportunity to attend. A first of it’s nature for me. I readily accepted and registered, making arrangements to take the day off from work.
As the day approached I surprised myself by looking forward to it with much eager anticipation. I reviewed the detailed description the day before, realizing that I may be getting in over my head. It said that this program was geared toward the school’s MFA Program. Yikes, I don’t even have a BFA. How am I going to fit in?
I arrived a few minutes early and settled in.
The speaker was introduced. Within hearing her first sentence I was all at once captivated, relieved, awestricken, inspired and jealous. This was a woman who is exactly my age who has known precisely what she’s wanted to do with her life since she was four years old. And she has done it, continues to do it and does it well.
She has numerous published books, some bestsellers, published articles, columns; a whole career and education based on knowing what she wanted. She grew up in the small town next door to the one I grew up in. She’s from a middle class family not very unlike mine.
The first thing she said was, “Why write?” She went on to tell us of how she has, since childhood, processed her world through writing. She said many more things as well, but this one thing stuck with me. She went on to tell us of a couple of unspeakble tragedies she’s endured. It was clear that she’s had, by no means, an easy life.
In listening to this local woman who’d traveled the world of words and back again, I became transfixed. She told us of her life, but in doing so, inspired me to look inward. As I listened to her, I realized that I had finally listened to me.
Until very recently my life has been spent wondering just exactly what it is I want to do. What is it I want to be? Always hesitating to commit wholeheartedly to higher education in any one area because, well, there was something else I wanted to pursue. If only I knew what it was. Another calling, or two or three. The voice was calling, beckoning. It just wasn’t loud or clear enough for me to hear. Or perhaps I was partially deaf to it. Turned my deaf right ear as I scurried through life, trying to figure it all out, to survive without an enduring focus.
For most of my life I heard a whisper on the wind as it flew on it’s wings past me.
I could have continued this way forever. Stifle the voice of who I am. But sometimes, sometimes more than once, there is something overwhelmingly powerful that occurs when you find yourself rendered utterly powerlesss. I didn’t know that there would come a time for complete readiness. A time when that hearing left ear would be turned to the wind to listen for the specific octave on the breeze.
It was early spring, before the trees blossomed, a misty, gray morning at the shore. The concussive words stunned me once again. I walked, silently wounded on my feet. No thought, only breath, walk. breath.
With my back against the wall, nowhere to turn, the gusts ceased their howling. The wind quieted.
And then It happened.
The soft gentle breeze whispered to me,
Pick up your pen and write.’
It was a gift. And I am thankful.