I find myself sitting here in a labyrinth of my creation. Years of success and failure stacked precariously like ancient Greek columns rising from every available flat surface. A library of books and periodicals spreads from shelves to floor in an organized chaos that only I understand.
Here, I’m comfortable, surrounded by all that represents all of me. Every thought I ever committed to text lays before me. Every mood, cause, notion and whimsy lays here recorded. If I were to vanish from this earth, this would be my footprint.
This is where anyone who cared about me would come to touch what is left of me. Perhaps they would read through these pages and in doing so, hear my voice and feel my passion. Perhaps, the one I love the most, would sit at my desk, fingers tracing my doodles, comforted by the cologne of my scent and old leather as the arms of my chair wrap around her.
This is what I imagined it would be like ever since reading an article about Ernest Hemingway when I was fourteen years old. I think it was in National Geographic magazine and there where several black and white stills included. The one that captured me was of Mr. Hemingway wearing a house coat or robe. There he stood in a room much like I described above, frozen in time. He held a pad and pencil, appearing to stare off in thought.
The article went on to explain that this was his favorite way to write. I found this fascinating knowing in his early years he earned his bread and butter as a war correspondent. I can only guess he had some mad typing skills, something that seems to have eluded me over the years.
I’m at my best writing with a yellow legal pad and #2 pencil, Ticonderoga Wood-cased #2 HB to be exact. Unlike Mr. Hemingway, this is out of necessity rather than option. I have more than a few, “unlike Mr. Hemingway’s”.
Unlike Mr. Hemingway, I have no such room as described above. I have not amassed my life’s work in any such quantity. In fact, recently I have been going through my old writings and much to my dismay I’m afraid I can barely clutter my desk. So many starts and stops. I know there was more, between three moves and ultimately a divorce, things just seem to disappear.
It would be easy enough to run with this notion but lamenting rarely has the power to promote anything positive.
I did not start writing again to walk through barren fields.
As I stand today, what I see is tillable land with good dirt. The seed remains strong. I have never felt so free to write as do now at this stage of my life. I have never had such a partner as my wife. She is my crusader and a believer in who and what I am.
With every hour I write I’m building those columns. I own the books and like mushrooms, there always seems to be more. But unlike at fourteen, I realize those columns of notes and manuscripts exist by default. They’re the by-product of doing. My hope is for them to be read, to be published.
Words that remain sheathed and unread, serve no other purpose than to quiet the one who wrote them.
Our lives are measured in many ways and differently for each of us. Often we are measured by others. But people are a finicky thing. They come and go. And there is no uniformity to the measuring stick they use. So it falls upon those who love us and who know us. We should measure ourselves by how faithful we have been to our passion and to those we father and to those we call wife and husband.
Unlike Mr. Hemingway, I still have the opportunity to do all these things. We should not waste a day walking through barren land. This is tillable soil, the seed is strong. Unsheathe your words and go forth.