A Writer, A Reader

A writer, a reader, a speaker, an audience. Revelation came to me in a moment, like a small shock. Not the kind of shock that makes you retract your hand or that has a buzzing sound, more like the kind of shock that you feel in your heart or in your mind. Of course, there really is no feeling there either, that is the stuff of poetry. Things that we experience but have no concrete origin. Things that neither exist or don’t exist. Things like love or happiness.

Have you ever noticed how easily you can describe something that you hate. A person or a thing. It is so easy to justify. You can rant endlessly about it and articulate your feeling of hatred so well to others that they understand you. They get you.

But, try to talk about love. Try to explain love to someone, and your mouth runs dry. Your words are barely intelligible. As you utter, the noise you make is no measure of what you feel. Even when you are desperately trying to tell the person you love how much you love them, and the ways that you love them, you become a drought. Tell a friend why you love someone and as much as they might try to understand it, they don’t. Unless of course, they love the same thing. Even two people that love the same thing can’t help each other to make the words come out right.  We are underserved in our capacity of expression.

It is a common condition. Mans perpetual struggle with existence, with communication. You read about it. You see it in art and in nature – a painting, a flower, a sunset. It is everywhere, and yet it is so hard to grasp. Love. The paradox that haunts those who can pen, paint, or orate emotions is that they have tapped into the ability to bring it out in others more than they can feel it in themselves. An artist rarely feels the same emotion as the audience. Nijinsky never experienced the emotion that his dance stirred in others. He had no equal.

Through some cosmic synapse there is an occasion when you tell someone that you love them, and they get it. They hear you. Not your words. Not your actions. In your aura. Love itself can never be expressed save to the object of that love. But even the shared another is not really fully realized until love is returned. Sometimes. Perhaps the pain and suffering of Van Gogh was because nobody saw his art the way he saw it. The way he felt it come out.

Why is it that the eyes of one or two people in your life deliver rapture, but the eyes of others do not. Generally, most eyes are alike except for some color differences or the shape of the socket or the length of the lash or contour of the brow. But if you look into the eyes of some people, you can see something more. Something eternal. You can see meaning and emotion. You can feel. Some eyes speak back to you and fill your soul.

The love of a child. That is an emotion that runs deep. Perhaps it is genetic. From the moment that a newborn springs forth and captures its first taste of air. There is love. Before I had my own child, I would hear a baby wail – a screaming skull. Somehow the mother was patient. She sang softly or bounced this tyrannical maniac gently in her breast. Mother smiles as she caresses the tears from its eyes. That is love, and it happens every day. Somehow the cries of your own child are musical. It is so normal that it could be considered mundane. The most magnificent love of all is a commoner. Perhaps that too is in they eyes. Although that child has little capacity for much other than eating and defecating, the look is enough to delight the parents. The cries are not annoying, but comforting. They are screams of endearment that connect the body to the soul.

I have a dog whose hair is soft and fluffy like a teddy bear. Everywhere we go, people go out of their way to pet him. Each week I witness a small child who is afraid of dogs overcome that fear by petting this dog. He is special and hard to resist. It’s surreal. He offers a magical bridge that puts a smile on everyone’s face. The more I objserve this attraction between people and this dog, the more that I am amazed that he can deliver so much happiness to others. In turn, he too seems happy. Although Pavlov was great at proving stimulus and response – his science fell short of explaining emotion. And, he certainly fell short on proving that animals have emotions. But clearly humans do. Some people think that all things carry emotion. Things living and dead. A rock. A tree. Conveyance or reality? Behold that truth and logic are slippery. I feel it. The dog must feel it too.

Here is a little secret. Artists often save the best stuff for themselves. They don’t share it. A writer who burns the paper of her best words. A painter who paints over his genius. A lover who does not speak of the object of that love. Even for those whose occupation is expression, they hold back. A melody that is never played because, in the heart or soul of each of us lives the understanding that expression carries risk. What will the audience think? How will they react when I share my very best?

There is a darker side too. The artist holds back because they do not care enough about the world to share that great thing. Even lovers fall short of loving with reckless abandon. And so it shall be. A writer, a reader. Their relationship is symbiotic, but within limits. A speaker, and audience – there is an association but it is not without censure. Even a mother holds reserves some things from her child. But every now and then, we bear witness to something so beautiful that it gives us goose bumps, and tears well up in our eyes, and we cannot help but to flex our thighs and biceps, and clinch our fists. It is a stunning moment, and I for one cannot get enough of it.

Perhaps the world would be more full of those special moments if we let go of more of ourselves. Paul Gauguin gave up his life as an aristocrat and a stockbroker to paint. He said that he did not like to paint. He did not want to paint. He had to paint.


I have known people like Gauguin. Musicians that play alone hour after hour. Dancers who rolls out of bed every morning and stretch. Photographers who retreat to the sea every night in hopes of capturing that perfect sunset. Artists who stay up all night pouring everything they can into their canvas. These people are a blessing, and through them we celebrate.“Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”

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