19 January 2010

A Place Called Belonging

We write to be heard. To express our ideas, our dreams. To touch lives that we may never meet tangibly but through words we are pilgrims along the same path.

It's easy to get lost amongst all these words. Fat ones, the kind that drip from your lips and run down your chin. Thin ones that crunch when they slip past your teeth. Salty ones, bitter ones, words so sweet they hurt your teeth. Soft words, hard words, words foul and ugly that are spat away and slung to the mud paved stones.

They build up, pile up, forming trees of looming darkness. We trudge onward, spouting words as they come, letting them tumble and crest into hills and valleys, all the while our feet walk blindly on. Until we hit an impasse. Until the wall is so high and the branches so thick around us. Until our feet are sunk in the very same mud we thought we'd washed our hands of.

There's a Place called Belonging and it's where we thought we were going. We used all the right words, the ones we heard others say. We threw out some wrong words, the shocking and the bleak. They made us feel edgy, hard core and refined. What about the sweet words? The ones everyone wanted to hear? Those counted for something, right? Right?!?

In desperation we claw at the wall, telling it to move, yelling at it in shrill tones that would crack glass and shatter the sugar coating we thought surrounded our dreams. There is not toe hold, no finger gap to cling to. What now? What then? Panting we sit, our knuckles are bleeding, our eyes swollen from crying. All that remains is the path down which we've already walked.

Go back? Nonsense! I've come this far! If I turn around I'll only go backwards. Backwards goes back to where I started from. I don't want to go back there. It's where I don't belong.

Perhaps not. But the wall, can you get by it? Can you get around it? Turn around, brave soul and seek out the path you passed. As words were flying unchecked from your lips, your fingers, your pencils you scattered it's faint footfalls and shadowed it's doorway.

Think now. Where did you taste that fruit? The one that was like nothing, like nothing you've had before? Only once, maybe twice, when the words came you knew. You KNEW your voice embodied them and you held them so briefly, cradling them like birds. They trembled and fluttered, wanting freedom and you gave it. They flew away, circling, calling to you, not goodbyes as you thought but a beckoning to follow.

To follow? Yes. The path. You had to go back to find it. You thought you were moving backwards but in truth you were going back to where you belonged. The birds,they nested, perched and waited. Now they sing and are ready to guide you to a Place called Belonging.

"But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 28


Helen Ginger said...

Your words show the ups and downs of a writer's emotions and yearnings. Good piece.

Straight From Hel

Chaotic Beauty said...

Wonderful post, reminding me to keep up and perhaps someday I will reach my destination! As always, your blog puts a smile on my face and encouragement in my soul!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I always long to be a better writer when I read your posts - not just better at writing, but better about the journey of writing. Thanks for that! :-)

deb said...

so true , so true.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I'm struggling with starting over on a novel. Go back to the beginning? Perhaps your words are for me today.

The Blonde Duck said...


Lin said...

Always a joy to read your writings, Jen. :)

Tabitha Bird said...

Yes, it is easy, so very easy to get lost among the words. It doesn't look like you have though:)

Lovely writing.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

This is the kind of thing I like to read out loud. Your command of words is wonderful. I'm an eternal student. One wrong turn or foolish move gives me an oppotunity for change and improvement.

~ Wendy

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Oh...I like this, Jen. Your descriptions of all the varied faces of words was masterful in itself, but the message was even better. I have been longing to go back to the "once, maybe twice, when the words came you knew..." ah...what a sweet place. Thanks for the inspiration.

Jen Chandler said...

Thanks Helen :)

Chaotic Beauty, glad I can bring a smile.

Shannon, you're welcome. Just keep moving! That's the best advice for any journey.

Mary: I understand. I've had to start over after 300+ pages before. Not fun, but necessary and so much better for the sacrifice!

Tabitha, perhaps I haven't got lost in the words, but I've been lost trying to find the words. They allude me sometimes. And sometimes life hides them from me.

Wendy, thank you! What a marvelous compliment. I appreciate it. To think of my words being read outloud. Ah, humbling. What a responsibility!

Thank you, Cynthia!
(and to everyone for reading and commenting :)

Stephanie Faris said...

Sometimes figuring out if we're on the right road or not is half the battle! Beautifully written...and very inspiring. You've given me a lot to think about.

Tiana Lei said...

I LOVED this! It sounds so poetic, like it should be a mantra we writers repeat every day before sitting down to our computers. Or pen and paper for those who like to do things the hard way :)

Terresa said...

What strength in your words. Encouragement to go on. Love the Lewis quote, too.

PS: Eerily enough, I wrote a poem last night about a pilgrim, charting new path (drawing parallels to myself as a writer, etc).

Eva said...

That was amazing. I love how you describe fat and thin words dripping and crunching. So vivid. Powerful stuff here.

Blondie said...

Such a descriptive post Jen! Great job. I love that you quoted Mere Christianity. I haven't read it in a while, but it is one of my dad's favorites. Hope you have a great night! Kori xoxo