Why I write

January 9th, 2012

I drove to a friend’s house last week and there is a point in the drive where I crest a wooded hill and at the top clear the woods and make a slight turn and BAM all across the horizon snow-covered peaks. In the foreground there are fields, and a few traditional Swiss farmhouses, and below the village. It was a pretty day when I drove, in the mid-afternoon, and I topped the hill and the Alps bore down on me and I actually said “Wow” out loud. More than once. It can still do that, after ten years, that sudden panorama. It can still nearly stop my heart.

What would happen if I opened my heart to every pink-blue sunrise, every red-streaked sunset, every first crocus of spring? Would it burn up from the rapture of it all? Explode? Get stronger? Sometimes I look up at the Eiger and wonder how we even manage to move through the day at all rather than stand rooted to the spot – any spot, the Alps or the sunrise or the blossoming plum tree – saying wow wow wow over and over. If we opened the valve, really opened the valve, we’d be ripped from shore and carried downstream by the sheer fact of the world. How to open the valve just enough to be alive and not so much we’re uprooted? Or is that the living, the moment of feeling your roots ripped from the soil of the ordinary?

And it is that, that BAM that ripping that rapture that is the first time every single time that I’m reaching for every time I pick up a pen. I want to crest the hill, to clear the woods, to be brought face to face with the extraordinary and to realize, finally, that it is extraordinary and I want to take you with me.


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