Tuesday, May 21, 2013

the words don't come easy (but let's do it anyway)

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 
Jack Kerouac

Let’s run after the fading light, my dear. Grab your bike, I’ve got your shoes, let me find my sunglasses, because the glare glints and gleams and I might be too blinded to notice you fall. Do you see the way the sun is drooping low, skimming the earth? We are surrounded by brown stucco houses, ringed in by mountains, and from where we stand we cannot see the horizon lines. But they are out there, and the sun is slipping below, lighting up the southern hemisphere even as we are met by darkness.

I think, my darling, this might be my favorite time of day. Walking with you, watching the light sharpen then fade, the streets half-clothed in dusk—these are the small miracles that sustain me. You’re really excited about your bike today. Except that you insist on riding it down the highest part of the curb, over and over again, and you keep falling off. Your knees are all scraped up, but you must not mind, because you keep doing it. Where can I find this kind of courage, persistence? Can you teach me how to keep trying?

The other kids are going inside. There are goosebumps on your legs, the cool breeze is lifting my hair. But let’s stay out a little while longer. Do you mind? I didn’t think so. This evening, it belongs to us, and it’s fine that you don’t want to hold my hand, that you’d rather run ahead. I’ll carry your bike; this is exactly why I bought the lightest one I could find. My arms are thin, the hills get steep.

I’ve been feeling uninspired lately. The words don’t come easy. I wish that creativity was simple, always flowing like a clear river. But it is complicated, and today, this week, it is a muddied river, full and polluted, being forced through a narrow inlet. But I see clear seas ahead, and you know how I crave open spaces, the wide, wide earth, fierce and wild and free.

I am searching for my voice in the tumult, fighting the impulse to compare, to measure up, to be someone I am not. I love words. I am not alive unless I am creating something with words. I am gathering up ideas,  I am laying them out in the sun to dry, because some of them are like crumpled scraps of paper, sopping wet and weighty. They need air, to be seen in the light, examined. But sorting through it all is difficult; it is work I am afraid of, intimidated by.

So I begin here, with the sacred everyday, the mundane and the common and the beautiful holy. The evening light, a slow bike ride, your lengthening curls and the way we bend to examine the rocks in the cracks of the sidewalk. I begin with what I know, who I know.

Creativity will never be as straightforward as I wish it was. It is less like a fully-stocked pantry and more like manna, enough for today. Sometimes it is compulsion, I could just write and never stop, and sometimes it is labor, hard work that I push through because if I don’t, I am not alive. So come alive with me, why don’t you? What awakens you, rises like the morning within you?  Let’s feel again.


  1. Please write a novel.

    1. I so wish I could snap my fingers and it would be done. But give me some time, the beginning stages are the slowest, and I'm at the very very beginning. I wish you weren't "anonymous." You even suggesting that I should write a novel, and that you might possibly read it, is refreshing and sweet. Thank you :)

  2. Wow Erika! Love your thoughts on creativity. That's exactly how it is with my paintings! Love, Jenn

    1. Thanks Jenn! So glad I'm not alone in the ebb and flow of creativity. That's what gives our work life, i suppose.


I would love to hear your thoughts.