Your spirit is dying, you don’t know whether you’re here by design or by default, and you don’t care anymore. The internet demands feeding and so you type and you publish and you burp the digital baby as it projectile vomits words into the ether. Sometimes, you wake up the next day finding throngs of agitated people poring over them and pointing the finger and you shrug because this kind of writing means nothing. It never did and you knew this from the start but you never expected it to trap you, either.
The one thing you had, the one thing that kept you going, the one thing no one could take away from you was your words, the words your heart whispered when everything around you made no sense, the words you hoped would someday lead you toward greater ease, one imagining at a time. You sold them all without keeping a single one to yourself, not even the most intimate, the most private ones. You auctioned everything off, right down to what never even belonged to you.
There’s nothing left of you to know, nothing left of you to reveal, nothing left of you to sell, the stool in the window is empty even though the curtain is pulled back. The digital red light district is empty, it has been empty for weeks now and that’s for the best. Remember when the tourists used to come for you? You were an economic driving force for a while, buttressing an entire make-believe universe of achievable dreams powered by the delusion that willpower was all it took. And you had it in spades because nothing motivates you quite like desperation, that commitment to a life that was never self-evident but which you chose to embrace rather than depart. You instinctively knew you needed witnesses then, you were still tethered to the world in a way that made loneliness almost irrelevant at times; you still had a world, albeit brittle, tentative, and a little elusive.
For weeks now, you’ve been sitting in the window every single day out of habit, putting out for an audience of stray cats and the odd seagull, naked but for your skin of shame, your rictus of regret, your air of wear and tear.
This was never your dream; your dream is dead.
Your dream is alive; this was always your dream.
For weeks now, you’ve been looking out of the window, casting a curious eye upon your extraordinary surroundings. Today, the community trash can is a library with used books piled high on the side that doesn’t open. You giggle.
There’s everything to discover, everything to create, and do, and be; love is everywhere you look, hiding in every word, in every gesture, in every action. You’re upright again, somehow, the mechanics of coming back to life word by word as unclear as they always were apart from one essential element: You, the person who lends me their eyes so I can see. The generosity of your gaze surprises me, your benevolence humbles me, and your words move me so much they make me lose mine. I’m here for you as much as you’re here for me, bound together by this urge to give free rein to imagination and curiosity so as to experience life as deeply and as fully as possible. We are raising a new barn with words so we might seek shelter underneath, together. We are weaving a new quilt with words so we might find solace, together. We are brewing a new elixir with words so we might find meaning, together.
The one thing we all share, the one thing that keeps us all going, the one thing no one could take away from us is our words, the words our hearts whisper when nothing around us makes sense, the words we hope will someday lead us toward greater ease, one imagining at a time. We share them, we gift them, we trade them, but only when they’ve matured into words we’re committed to, words designed to endure, survive, and outlive. Sometimes, we’re proud of them, most of the time we look upon them as building material.
This sense of unlimited possibility is intoxicating and you don’t know when to stop because everything is interesting again. Life has never felt as promising as it does every time you look at your screen. You begin to re-imagine what it means to earn a living with words when they seem to mean so little and so much at the same time. You trust the bridge that brought us here can take us even further if only we keep building it alongside each other, whatever the weather. Your enthusiasm is catching.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.