March 12, 2011

Dear Writer, With love from 1992

Stuff Arrives 3When you move, do you end up moving boxes that you never unpacked? I do - but only very small ones. I have a box that contains postcards from a friend who spent his gap year in New Zealand the year he recovered from cancer; I have boxes that contain my journals from high school -- not something I have the intestinal fortitude to read too often. Most of my life is organized and at least attempts to be tidy, but there are dusty little boxes which contain who I was, once upon a time, and they're an amusing -- and occasionally horrifying -- time capsule to open.

This morning, I found a note I'd written to someone in college, and never gave them... it's TYPED, double spaced. On a TYPEWRITER (I hated dot matrix printers from their inception, and so loved the print function on my typewriter, that I kept it). It's so ...full of sound and fury and earnestness and meaning(lessness) that I have to share it with you. Remember the YA novel about calling your past self to give yourself advice? This is me contacting my future self with a letter instead.

I'm not sure I achieved what I set out to say -- and, forgive the hyperbole and the dramatic cynicism -- my college years did lend themselves to these things, after all.

It is a struggle to be an artist in a dying world.

It's true, you know; the world is dying by degrees, slowly draining its vital resources into a quagmire of futility. We are going absolutely nowhere fast. How does the artist, he or she who is attuned to beauty and peace and eschews the crude, vulgar, or ugly -- how does one cope in a slowly fading, slightly drooping, silently sliding, swiftly tilting planet?

The answer, I believe, lies in the will to produce. Most artists have a keen drive to leave their mark on the world. In making a place for oneself, one need only to observe, digest, and divulge. Writewritewritewritewrite. Regardless of the fact(s) that upon occasion what one writes is silly drivel, fully useless and quite unreadable; regardless of the fact(s) that the world is an ecologically unsound, biologically unstable and horrendously evil, look. Look at it. Look at it and live... not because of it, certainly not through it...merely live.

I wish I could teach you to feel. At time it appears that there is too much to feel, too many swirling emotions that envelop one like a fog. We are taught not to feel, not to give in to the madness. But,

if you let it take you, if you let yourself go and ride the avalanche,
...you will learn to gently break your fall. Yes, you'll cry a lot, yes you will be enraged at the apparent callousness and stupidity of the world at large...



but you will feel. and you will write.

i promise.


The artist, I have since learned, does not, in fact, eschew the "the crude, vulgar, or ugly," because those things, too, are a part of life, like it or not. But, there is some truth there... I was fumbling my way towards some major epiphanies. (Emphasis on fumbling.)

What's a relic from your young adulthood that you've run across lately?

7 comments:

Melissa said...

Love this post! We're in the process of moving and yes, I will definitely be moving some boxes I've never unpacked. Now that I've read this post, I just might have to take a look to see what some of them have inside.

aquafortis said...

I LOVE "quagmire of futility." I really do.

My younger college self wrote some stuff like this, too. Sadly, a lot of it is trapped on 3.5-inch disks. It probably doesn't need to see the light of day anyway...

Elaine Magliaro said...

Tanita,

I thought I'd stop by to say hello!

I haven't come across things from my young adulthood lately. We had to clean out my mother's house before we sold it last fall. I brought home some boxes she had stored in her attack. I went through them a few days ago and found my christening dress and my baby book.

tanita davis said...

Melissa: I hope you find something amazing. Even a story start...

Aquafortis, I have since then decided to insert "quagmire of futility" into pretty much every conversation I have...

Elaine: Okay, you trump us all. Your christening gown!? I have zero idea where any kind of that sort of thing might have gone -- but how lovely that you still have it, and can pass it along to your daughter, maybe, when the time comes ... good to hear from you, m'dear!

Susan T. said...

Once, when I was visiting my parents down South, I came across the research paper I had to write my senior year of high school. It was about the separatist movement in Quebec. (For a while I wanted to be a diplomat...or special education teacher...or a vet. Anyway..) I remember taking my topic very seriously

That day, years later, at my folks', though, I died laughing when I read the opening sentence: "'Where is Quebec?'" one may ask."

tanita davis said...

Hahahahah! Um... one may, perhaps, just get out a map if one is that, um, geographically disabled...

I remember my big sophomore project for History, English, and music on Mozart -- the final line: Thy eternal summer shall not fade: happy summers, Amadeus.

Good GRIEF.

Susan, I think we could have written together.

aquafortis said...

HAHAHA!

Sorry.

If it helps, I just found an entire essay (about 3-4 handwritten pages) that I wrote at age 13 classifying the types of people who annoyed me. I will try to post this to my other blog sometime soon. It's disturbing yet entertaining...