This week has stolen the words
from my throat
I thought that at some point
the hole that goes from
my heart to my mouth
would make a noise
but it hasn't.
This week has stolen my voice.
My words will come back eventually,
floating up from wherever they're stuck.
But until then, we'll have to go in reverse:
They lay there, old and worn, something that had disappeared for so long I'd forgotten when I lost them in the first place. An old pair of sneakers. I'd bought them my freshman year of high school and wore them everywhere. Every adventure from my younger years shows in the soles of these shoes. Tennessee. California. Mexico. Colorado. Mississippi. Downtowns, dusty roads, coffee shops, rocky cliffs, record stores--rhythms of the place I've been that have led me to where I am. I was so young. I had so many dreams wrapped up in this deep and aching desire to change the world, or at least take away some of its pain. That unparalleled passion- I want that back.
So, feeling a bit lonely, I put on my adventure shoes and headed to the library. I am a book person. I've always found a peace there, surrounded by so many stories with so many different endings, each unique and yet equally important. In the heart of the silence, I feel challenged and inspired by the idea that my story isn't over yet. That there is more that lies ahead than I could ever dream of.
After I'd gathered most of my books, I bumped into an older gentleman in one of the aisles. Instantly he reminded me of my grandfather. He laughed at the giant stack of books in my arms and asked me what I was reading. I wasn't in a hurry, so I set down my books and talked with him. In that moment, there was no other place I had to be. There was nothing pressing I had to do, nothing to prove. It's funny what people will share with you about their lives when you're actually willing to listen. He mentioned he was a retired high school history teacher. I watched his face light up as he told stories about his students, his life, his favorite play, his wife's knee replacement surgery. His brow folded and unfolded, his hands motioning as he explained details, while pausing every once in awhile to throw his head back and laugh. As he was talking, I realized how much we need people; connections, stories, someone to share our lives with. He went on, telling me about theater and the lights in Paris in 1976. I loved listening to him because you could tell he loved what he had to say. Sometimes you have to watch someone fall in love with something before you love it yourself. There was this entire life history wrapped up in this precious man I normally would have walked right on past.
As we parted ways, he turned and said one last thing. "I know the economy is bad and things are rough all over. But don't be afraid to dig in your heels. I'd hate to think you missed out on doing what you love." He chuckled, folded his newspaper under his arm, and left. Something sparked in me as he walked away. This crazy desire to live a life so full of life that I don't just "get by". That my days don't just fall through the cracks. When I'm older, I want to get so excited to tell people about my life that I talk with my hands flailing and my heart in my eyes. Maybe in fifty years, I will be walking by myself down an aisle. And I can tell someone in half-library whispers, between all the stories with endings that I'll never know, that they must dig in their heels. They must find it in them to live the best kind of story.