Saturday, March 16, 2013

when words won't work

if you ask me what i came to do in this world, i, an artist, will answer you: i am here to live out loud. 
{writer, emile zola}

i have been trying to pin words to something that happened last week.  i have been unsuccessful.


did you know that during any given week there are dozens of thoughts and experiences that my mind begins furiously processing with words?  does anyone else do that?  i'm learning that this is part of my unique design as a writer.  


i experience the world in words.  


some things don't feel complete until i take them in, sift them through my fingers, examine them closely, dissect their meaning, connect them to other thoughts and experiences i have held, rework them through the lens of truth, and then lay down the finished product.  


in this way a writer is akin to a potter who holds the earth in her hands kneading it until it is ready to be shaped into her own expression...her own art.  something that will stand up to the fire that will complete it...making it ready to be received by the rest of the world.  


walt whitman said that

     the art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.

if this is true {and i believe in many ways it is}...then perhaps simply communicating what happened in the simplest of terms is adequate...


last week our family of four sat down to dinner.  instinctively we all reached out to grab one another's hands - tiny finger clutching bigger ones.  our eyes met each other's and without hesitation lucy offered to do the honors {as she often does}.  the child's sing-song voice is delightful...really...she seems to have lovely pitch and tone {and whatever else they are always critiquing on american idol}.  as we closed our eyes, she began one of her memorized prayers...


God our father, God our father

once again, once again...

then she stopped short.  joey and i glanced up.  she looked thoughtfully at us and continued...with her own singing words this time...


God - thank you for mommy and daddy...

and thank you that they adopted me.

my eyes sprang open to see this child of mine who breathed these words that sent salty streams down my face.  i looked at her with wonder and amazement.  she continued offering up words that had something to do with thanks and family and love but they are lost from my memory because i was replaying that first line over and over to make sure it was burned into my heart for eternity.


in the simplest of terms...that is what happened.


but it's not really all that happened.  

because though walt whitman's observation is true...so is aristotle's...
     the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

the inward significance.  that's what i want to pin words to...but, in this case, they all seem to fall so inadequately short.