the essay is alive – virginia woolf
What if every moment had an essay, every detail its own lyric narrative?
What if every stick that lined the sidewalk, its frayed end splintered like a broken elbow, had adoption papers tacked to its underside, and it was your job to read it, to respond to it simply because you saw it, and there is something in the seeing, isn’t there? A kind of ownership, duty, muled burden that demands you give the past, the dead a voice.
Would it be too much? The cloud of witnesses becoming a witnessing cloud, the voices like snow, impossible to separate as they fall, and, despite their individuality, fading into a wet nothingness when it lands.
I am writing a book about growing up as a nondenominational Christian, and yes, the book mentions God, and yes, doubt, and yes, death. But each sentence pulls at me, demanding to have its own in-the-moment voice. Even now, the mood of the above questions seems too maudlin, and I feel the weight of having to keep this up. What if I wanted to make insignificant puns, or reference pop culture (I used to love Pete & Pete!) in a way that isn’t quite ‘literary’ to show that I don’t take myself seriously?
So, ok, yes: let’s dispense with any sense of o-blog-ation. Let’s admit that I’ve hardly ever kept a journal and that I hand-wrote more letters in elementary school than I have ever since. When I tried journaling, I acted as if there would be an audience, real or imagined, and when I write letters, they sound like I’m talking to myself. Basically, I have a hard time writing to write. Let’s realize that the apostrophe-s in “let’s” implies an audience, real or imagined, and that I will just write some moments as essay for us. Sometimes it’ll be about the book, sure, but other times, not, because, who cares? I will, as Emerson wrote, essay myself to be.
I pick up the stick, unfold the slip of paper.