Sometimes, when I am walking down the stairs, reaching for a glass on the middle shelf, or opening up the back door to let the dogs out, things come into my head that should have been obvious, but have clearly been hiding. It always surprises me. I am pretty much a permanent resident of the internal landscape, and yet so much of it is still in shadow.
Today, I held a copy of “Tiger Lily” in my hands for the first time. I looked at Jane’s beautiful artwork, read my own name on the cover next to hers, and felt incredibly proud to be a part of this creative collaboration. I opened the book and felt in awe of the art, as I do every time I see Jane’s work, but when I read a few of the poems, it was as if I was reading through clouded glass, as if someone else had written them. I couldn’t remember how I had put the words together.
I placed the book gently on my desk, as if it were a dream that may have come true but was still breakable. I left the house to do some errands with Joe, came back, made a salad, and then while walking upstairs with a glass of water, it occurred to me that I have separated the daily life piece of myself from the writer piece. It is as if one part of me moves through the world with a tepid mask fixed in place, trying to blend in, and the other side, the side with texture and colour, the side that rages and breaks apart and doesn’t feel afraid all the time, I keep hidden away. Then I wondered if my tepid self was the one on solid ground and my writing self the reflection, or is it the writer who feels the earth beneath her feet, whose eyes are wide open. Even more puzzling, why do I keep them separate? Am I left with no identity, or so much that I can’t gain any clarity?
I have spent years of my life feeling fearful and uncertain, feeling like who I am must not be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough. But, good enough for who? I am constantly searching for opportunities to reinvent, to banish ghosts and erase scars. But, isn’t it the scars that tell stories and forge the path to strong character? I have tried so many times to shake off fear, strip away self doubt. I have failed. But, isn’t it failure that helps you grow, teaches you that you have the choice to rise, again and again?
I am fifty three years old, living a world away from the city I called home most of my life, and have a second book about to be released. That’s pretty cool! I have made the choice to be a writer. It is the brave choice. Whether I am split into two halves or broken into a thousand pieces, there is a part of me, when I am writing, that isn’t afraid of feeling afraid.