Dec 14 2012
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The Writer You Are Becoming

becoming the words you spin

The other day I was wandering around nearby Leonardtown, after my appointment at the dentist’s and before the bookstore opened.  In the yarn store there was this woman sitting in front of a loom, doing mysterious things with her hands and feet that transformed stiff, straight rows of brightly-colored thread into soft billows of patterned fabric.  The me that has always been a weaver said, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to weave,” and I left the store registered for a class that would give me the skills to become what I already was.

The same thing happened with scuba lessons.  I’d been watching those underwater Nature shows for months, pasting into my journal pictures of divers enmeshed in living nets of Technicolor fish, then one day, I’m walking down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, and this storefront sign says, “Sale on Scuba Lessons.”  I go in.  Come out an hour later, lessons paid for, gear in a bag.  It wasn’t the discount that sold me, though, it was the look of yearning on the instructor’s face when he said, in a reverent near-whisper, “It’s so quiet down there, you can hear the shrimp cleaning themselves.”  When he explained that “scuba” is an acronym for Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, the me that has always known how to breathe underwater sighed, relieved to discover it’s only the apparatus that’s been lacking.

Now I’m learning to weave, and find myself in possession of an entirely new language, with words like “heddle” and “shed,” “shot” and “thrum” braiding themselves into the secret intersticies of my brain.  Last night, lying out on the dock, gazing up at the Milky Way, I thought about the black hole at its center.  Not, as was once thought, a cosmic vacuum cleaner, sucking up anything that strays into its path.  Not, as was once thought, an annihilating force, but a creative presence, a master weaver, shooting weft threads of intense energy through warp threads of hydrogen and helium, transforming gas into a living fabric of stars that billows out into the universe, a bolt of cosmic cloth, unfurled.  100 million galaxies, each one plaited with 100 million stars, because from deep within the secret interstices of every galaxy, there resides a black crevasse that knows itself, not as the darkness it is, but as the light it is becoming.

Every time I sit down at my desk, the me that has always known how to write mysteriously appears, bringing with her an attendant power to transform stiff, straight letters into billows of patterned fabric that become a poem, a story, a chapter in a book.  And when I’ve finished writing for the day, I know myself in a new way:  not as the darkness I was, but as the light I am — through this poem, this story, this chapter – becoming.