As I continue my plodding ramble through the pages of Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away, I encounter this line of thought:
“…let out what you have hidden…go for the jugular, for what makes you nervous…what you mistrust, how you have been hurt, the way you see the world differently…get it out and down on the page.”
She follows that with the directive, “Tell me what you will miss when you die.” Well…
I will miss taking in a big, clean breath of air. The kind of cool air experience you get when standing in front of a large body of clear water. The kind you miss when an illness constricts your breathing, when you know a deep breath will cause a fit of coughing, when you are too weak to take in a big gulp of air. I suppose that no matter what the hereafter brings, breathing will not be a part of it.
I will miss the star-filled night sky. I mourn the many wasted opportunities to appreciate it. Lately, I have made a concerted effort in my nighttime wanderings to pause, and look up. I can’t believe I took that splendor for granted for so long!
I will miss laughter. Not polite laughter. Not even the “that was surprising” titter, or the “that was really funny” chortle. Not the crowing laugh that accompanies having the upper hand, nor the snicker that follows a juicy bit of news. I’ll miss the crazy, uncontrollable, laugh-until-your-belly-hurts, brings-tears-to-your-eyes kind of laughter that is so precious, so surprising when it happens seemingly out of the blue, and such a relief.
I’ll end with Natalie Goldberg’s words:
“In real life, get out of the way when a person with a gun is running down the street. In your writing life step in front of his path, let him shoot you in the heart.”
What you fear, if you turn toward it, will give your writing teeth.”