Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Street Called Bliss

Bush Gnomes in Low Light in Ridley Creek Park, August ‘08

My Literature Professor assigned us the first reading of the Villanova Literary Festival. Ethan Canin read from his new novel, America America, and provided witty answers to questions about his process of writing. He was articulate, his reading was engaging, and he made me wonder what I had been doing with the hours of my life.

See, I have been writing since before I could write. When I was three, I wanted to write so badly that I would draw strange cartoons with bubbles for the dialogue, and would beg my Mother (truthfully, it didn’t take much begging) to painstakingly spell out the words I put in my characters’ mouths. I wrote poetry in 4th grade, plays in 6th grade, strange stories in 10th grade and in college. And, writing was like air. It was right there in my head, but required little attention.

Yet, life flowed, slowed, and flowed on. And I wrote, and didn’t write, with abandon. Left to my own devices, I would doodle, and write, and write about my doodles, and stare at the sky, the forest, the ocean, or at nothing at all. I would write in the silence. I would write in my head. I would pour out my mind in the noisy hubbub that filled the bars where I read poetry to the inebriated. Nervous, unsure and knees knocking was I at the podium with a cloth-covered journal of my heart rendered.

Life definitely interrupted, and I let it. Twenty years later, I have a bunch poetry, stories, and plays in my pocket, and a large grey blob of uncertainty about what to actually do with them. Silly me. I really do know.

And, at this moment (lucky me!), I just happened to be drawn to a crossroads. This road that meets an other unfamiliar road at the cross, that continues on to the visible, predictable horizon, is no longer as mildly attractive, fulfilling, certain, comfortable or dear. But, that street that crosses my path, that path that has erupted from the brush and disappears into the wild-land? That road that seemed too … gossamer, incongruous, uncertain, disconnected from the present? That road looks really like home. It vibrates, actually thrumming with a rhythm like something forgotten, almost recalled. Like my heart.

Imagine that.

So. What to do? What to do? What to do?

God, why is this so hard? I’ve been straying from the path all of my life. Wouldn’t it be interesting to do so with intent? Slip off the well-beaten path, sidestep the brambles that always present as the second choice, and forge my own path?


But enough about me. Where is your bliss?


Lori Skoog said...

Fe...what you do is write because it is right...right? You're a natural and it flows out of you, yes...the same way your heart beats. As for my bliss, it's happening.

TRXTR said...

CoyoteFe, you are a writer! (Takes one to know one!) So you are refusing God's Gift and abandoning yourself-- and you ask what to DO now... when you already know!

Ah, confession time. Not publicly maybe but privately. What's keeping you from being who you are, who God made you to be? How much more time will you let go by before...? Well, you know.

A writer writes! As a writer that spent too many years promising myself "one day," I also know how many days I spent not writing. So this lambasting is really meant to be firmly encouraging!

Your gift is precious to those of us who read you. We are grateful for your writing.

CoyoteFe said...


Your last line is PRISTINE! Your bliss IS happening! Every damned day. I feel lucky to, at least, have enough sense to know what you mean. You rock!

CoyoteFe said...

TRXTR-wan -

MUST you beam those laser eyes into all my sensitive bits?? Refusing God's gift? How about we soften it by calling it "ignoring" God's gift. Ewww. Maybe that's worse.

Actually, I have spent a lot of time wondering whether it was a matter of fear of failure or fear of success. Read too many books containing such messages in my youth. Is that the same thing? I wrestle, and don't yet know why. Odd no?

And, you did not say what YOUR bliss is. Is it writing, or ...?

P.S. You are encouraging, in that disconcerting-armed-with-lasers way. ha!

Spartacus Jones said...

The mythologist Joesph Campbell advised, "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid."

Pretty good advice.


rebecca said...

"two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

It's time, Miss Fe. Be not afraid. You have a gift. And whether what keeps you is fear of failure or fear of success (opposite sides of the same coin), you have had a lifetime of honing your writing skill, honing your inner strength and you know you can face this and do this.

This was so beautifully written and expressed -- you make my sometimes restless soul settle down into the warm glow of stillness.

Now, if I - I - could only take this advice :)

((hugs)) dear friend,

Janie said...

You express yourself so beautifully. Sounds like writing is what you want, so do it!
Funny how when we're young we assume that older folks (like, over 30) have things all figured out. Not so. Life is seeking. Perhaps if we ever really found complete bliss, life would cease to be interesting.
Anyway, I can't say I have one thing that is bliss to me. I'm struggling, like most people, to string together the elements.
Thanks for your post today. It really made me think.

CoyoteFe said...

Spartacus Jones!

Hope all is well. You make it sound so simple. :-)

Rebecca-san =

You know that is one of my favorites. Sometimes the wild path is so attractive, other times I am in a hurry, and then there are the times when I hesitate and act all "funny." Did a shadow spook me? Was it the wind?

Meanwhile, trying to picture you STILL. Ha!

OK - I will try harder.

Hallooo, Janie!

So you very kind! You are Spartacus are the Queen and King of just do it! And, that is the only thing to do, isn't it?

Have yet to meet ANYONE who has it all figured out, and you're right: Complete bliss sounds a bit counter-productive.

Oh - let's all just walk our paths, shall we? :-)

TRXTR said...

OK, CoyoteFe, it's not easy talking about "bliss" tonight-- still achy from my yesterday-- but I was drawn to your blog tonight, so here I am...

My bliss? My bliss is "feeling myself turned inside out, like I've let go like a leaf on the wind and am being happily carried away." Something like that.

I feel it when I write-- but more when my writing writes itself through me. That happens is prose, but more in poetry.

I feel it when I'm working out, like when I am no longer playing racquetball but I am The Game and The Game is me.

I feel it when I'm dancing, and I'm no longer keeping time or rhythm or pattern but the beat dances itself through me.

And, since you asked, I feel it when I'm making love, only it's more Love "making" itself, Love coming to be, first between us, then around us, then through us, then in us, then shooting to the sky beyond us and we're goin' with it too!

Something like that...

I feel this bliss at other times too, whenever the eternal moment erupts into the chronological present and hold time itself in its embrace, so there is this lingering... like the smell of jasmine or honeysuckle in the summer, but the smell is we... just we being held in that motionlessness that is so very moving...

Do you know the bliss? I hope so...

CoyoteFe said...

Oh my Dear TRXTR -
I hope the aches are ebbing by the hour. And, you are welcome on this stretch of the road anytime.

I am quite familiar with bliss in all it's rhythms, colors, breaths, tastes and stillness. And, I like that we don't even have to seek it out. Really, I suppose it would be impossible to do so. And the way you articulated it captures such a seemingly fleeting thing long enough to almost taste it. Wow! I can almost see it resting in your hands.

Sometime, though, I wonder if I am too well acquainted. Is it possible to be so enfolded that one doesn't quite make it as far down the road as one should?