Words can stab you in the heart then go on to haunt you until you finally unpack their meaning, sometimes years later.
I didn’t understand this comment at the time because no-one thinks of their normal as extraordinary, do they? My normal has always been a bit odd. Enough that it defied the definition of normal for others but not so much that it was alienating.
Until chronic depression hit, almost as soon as I immigrated to the US in 2013. When I came to, existing had been the challenge, the goal, and the reward for five years during which language had left me. When we reunited, it was with some amount of mutual distrust.
Because a malfunctioning brain meanders.
Almost two years later, there’s this brand new level of weird to love. Thanks to the pandemic, appearances don’t matter anymore, we’re finding out who we are as individuals and as a society. And it isn’t always who we said we were or even who we thought we were. It is quite possible you too might have changed while you weren’t looking.
We live in stupendously interesting times; we get to witness how we, humans, are at our best when we empower one another.
Until I came back to Europe, I had forgotten what it felt like or whether it was possible.
I began remembering, little by little, and documenting those epiphanies. When side by side, they amount to a great big bang. But of course it didn’t happen all at once. This massive shift in my mental ecosystem is the result of tiny incremental progress and many setbacks.
And then I fell into poetry. It began gnawing away at my American cynicism; invisible things became tangible, visible, palpable.
Everything is a matter of heart; words can wow and woo and wound. Life isn’t always self-evident for everyone. When you have no money to throw at a problem or a need, you find other solutions to stay alive. We’re all creative powerhouses, it’s how we survive.
Yes, you too; you’re still here, aren’t you?
There were fireworks when I moved into my apartment in North Holland on the last day of 2019 and they haven’t really stopped. Or my brain has found a way to keep them going even if it still knocks me sideways with alarming regularity.
We write to serve the heart, we write to serve the mind.
Focusing on hope may not dispel distress but it makes it more bearable because it’s no longer the only thing you think about.
All I know is that words can lead you back to human warmth but it’s not a direct flight. And it takes time. And your luggage gets lost. But your heart soars.
There may not always be money in words but there is dignity, both in those you commit to the page and those you prefer to imply.
You write to move on, not stay stuck, and that alone is extraordinary.
Life does not have to crush you.
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.