There are things that will pull you back to the page by your hair… kicking and screaming. There are stories that will haunt you, excite you and demand they be told…
Or why write at all?
A dear friend to my family has left us… I am so sad to learn that he has left this place… peace is absolutely what I am feeling today. Yes I am sad, but loss makes you look at how your living?
How am I living? How do I want to live right now? Not tomorrow! Not next week! Not next year! How do I intend to live today!
I finished an amazing book on writing by Anne Lamott, titled “Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life”… it was her section on jealousy. She was writing about envy. She was looking into some dark places, “better to talk about it than to spend a lifetime being poisoned.” (p. 129)
Lamott watched a document about a couple with aids and something inside of her clicked. She describes the images she saw as ravaged bodies, emaciated, purple…
“But once you, the viewer got to know the spirit inside, you could see the beauty of that sick person lying under the mounds of quilts that friends made. You could see the amazing fortitude of people going through horror with grace, looking right into the pit and seeing that this is what you got, this disease, or maybe even this jealousy. So you do as well as you can with it and this ravaged body or wounded psyche can and should still be cared for as softly and tenderly as possible…” (p. 129)
The more she watched the film the angrier she got at how successful a friend of hers had become, while she was struggling with her son. During that time Anne was writing a lot about her childhood and how she wanted what other girls had… and how much better she believed everyone else was living.
I have been here…
I have spent so many years jealous, angry, resentful, hurt, and insecure. I have written thousands of pages, essays and blogs about how hard my life has been, all the pain I have carried, held onto and endured… and all that I’ve learned so far on this journey.
Then you lose someone you love and you start to realize that you’re wasting time when you should be writing. When you should be living. When you should be loving. When you should be becoming.
“Get your head out of the clouds! Get your head out of your ass!” This one mantra has been the record playing for more years than I would like to admit. I have spent so much time writing and thinking about what my life wasn’t/hasn’t been, and at the hands of which people in particular.
What would you write if TODAY was your last day?
Death and loss have so much to teach us…
Death teaches us that life can end at any moment. Death is final. There is no waking up from death. There is no encore. There is no… “one more song!” Death is the closing credits. Death is THE END!
Loss teaches us all the lessons we have chosen to miss or ignore…
Loss reminds us to say thank you to all the teachers who entered our lives who have gifted us with gems, yet we might not see it until they are no longer with us.
As I think about my friend Orion’s passing I am remembering many moments… drinking, laughing, dancing… so much love. I am remembering his hugs… Both gone… Orion and Luis were inseparable. They were pure joy. They both lived life. They both had so much laughter and a beautiful friendship. Before leaving us, even while terminally ill, his smile never left his face… he and his wife recently renewed their vows. As I looked at the pictures of their beautiful life together the one word to describe what they shared was LOVE.
This is what Orion teaches me to LOVE deeply and value your friendships, your family, your loved ones, making memories and celebrating moments.
Loss teaches us that while those we love are gone WE are still here and they get to live on through us. Loss teaches us to let go and forgive. Forgiveness is the most beautiful gift you can give someone and to ourselves. Loss teaches us to be present and not waste anymore time. Loss teaches us to love deeply.
So as I mourn the loss of my beautiful friend I pray that Oya receives him and welcomes him home. May he reveal himself to all of as a hawk. Whenever we see one flying we can know we are blessed and that he is protecting and watching over us.
Watching someone you love die slowly… I have no idea what this looks like. I am sending his beautiful wife Belle so much love and strength. May she find comfort and peace and healing. I send her so much love… Orion come visit me one day! Whisper inspiring words for my challenging male characters… make me laugh. I love you dear friend. Sleep. Rest. Luz para tu espíritu…please hug Lou for me. Ibaye ‘baye tonu.
Write as if today was my last day!
What would I write if today was my last day?
This answer has changed for me over the years. I have spent so much of my time reading and writing about women with special abilities and powers. I have written about pain, trauma and healing. I write about women… fictionalized characters inspired by women I admire and only dream of becoming with every word I write. I spend time discovering the specific challenges my female characters will be faced with. I focus on the specific themes that motivate the men in my stories.
If today were my last day the story I would write would be filled with love. The world my characters reside in is filled with so much violence. Power is a theme that is very present in my pages. I would write about those in power and those who fight to keep it. They rape. They kill. They steal. They lie. They betray. There is no loyalty. Yet love is found amidst all of this struggle and hate.
They tell us to write what we know. There is a reason for this… there are certain experiences only we know. There are voices of people only we can get right. That is what is beautiful about writing and what I love about great writers. They take us into worlds that allow us to feel things. We are with them every step of the way. If today were my last day I would spend it with my characters. There is not a second to waste!
So today and everyday I will write as if it were my last day…
Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Anabel Santos