Years ago one of my teachers told our memoir class that the answer to almost every question we might have about writing was, “Write, write, write, write, write…”
I think you get the idea. Writers write. It’s what they do, they get it. I did, at least to the extent that since then I’ve filled several moleskins and other journals with thoughts, ideas, challenges, poems, and to-do lists. I’ve sporadically posted in my blog, over the last year a lot of the more worthy reads centered on my son’s health crisis and our family’s journey with him to recovery.
Some of the journal entries of that year strike me more than others for they were more about my own fears and doubts about my own mortality. Here’s a peek…
When you die and we hover over your body asking that you wake, to stop giving us the dread of never hearing your smile or seeing the reasons we are so proud of the boy we raised. That’s when hope is needed. Hope that any of the spirit teachings might mean anything real.
To believe any of the myths, to wander into tabernacle earth seeking light in the darkness that has gripped your heart and squeezed dreams we ever had out of you. When you die and come back to us and tell us there was no light, no god, no angels, no Charon on the ferryboat, no Elegua on your road to ‘where’ exactly. So what are we to believe of this thing called an after life?
A short time later I had written to myself to be more concerned about writing ‘towards the light’ and ‘against the fear’ without noting anything as to the why I had made those notes. Who’s light? Who’s fear?
As if the answers weren’t clearly obvious to me. But honestly, they weren’t.
But this is why we have friends. Two in particular who’ve known me for almost fifty years reminded me of the strength, light, and creativity in me. But even in the face of that I wasn’t feeling ready to start again, I wasn’t really seeing my way to getting to the core of any of the stories in me, or any that I could construct. Joining the effort of writing an essay each week of 2017 seems perfect because just the thought of exploring ‘me’, digging into the who, why, and what I am means dealing with fear.
The other night in my meditation an image came to me. It was the hallway to the bedrooms in the apartment I grew up in. What I felt standing at the end of the hallway was the fear and despair I felt constantly as a child. Afraid of what volcano of anger and abuse my father was going to be that night and the despair of my helplessness to defend myself and my sister from either of those things. And deeper, the fear that I would become anything of what my father was.
Along the way I plan to show the steps I’ve taken to walk that hallway and to open those doors. I’ll show you the man I’ve become, the dreams I’ve had and realized, the ones that have died along the way. More importantly, I’ll expose the dreams that still flower in my imagination. I’ll show you the person my mother said was ‘a good man’ not too much before she transitioned. And no doubt you’ll meet my shadow as well. The anger, pride, and fear that reside there have certainly helped me survive.
This first essay is purposefully short, it serves as an introduction. My government name is Charles Jerome Cuyjet, Jr. Friends call me Chuck, poetry people know me as New Haiku. Wayne, Robert, and Esther call me dad. Kayla, Noah, Hayden, and Joe call me grandfather. My great grandson is entirely too young to call anyone anything.
Me? I’m calling myself a writer.