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"Literal Meanings"

By Rhia Steele

Within this tangled web of my mind, comes through a reflection of the soul. Time after time, I have been driven to this place, where out my minds own entanglement out comes clarity. I have never questioned "why" I write, or "what" I write. I just know it is what I am meant to do. I have written poetry since the age of 13, or well before, and to this day, I consider it my heart's work. So many times, I sit with an "empty" white page; never knowing what words shall appear. Yet, within the portals of my essence, the outcome is always, a feeling, a thought, that I elaborate upon. I think about the word, "literacy". We are as a whole, a "literate" society, even though we continue to raise children that cannot read nor write. I have been blessed, to have the "knowledge", of Spelling, English, and all of the "subjects" taught to us in schools, by parents, teachers, and those who chose to give me, just like many of us "knowledge". Some tend to think having knowledge is the "means to an end", yet I seem to see it in a different light. Knowledge is something "learned", and wisdom is something "gained" from walking throughout life. Life is not always some "bed of roses", as the cliche' goes.

Even though my early childhood, "taught" me life was this "fairytale world" where there were no money problems, worries, and "bad relationships". By the time I was 17, I knew things were a great deal different "out in the world", than in the "sheltered" life I lived with my parents. In my "darkest" hours, it has not been "knowledge" that sustained me, but "wisdom" and "faith". Faith institutes various meanings and conceptions for people. For some it is more of a "religious" belief. For others, I feel it is an "escape" word, for just not "dealing" with life. There are times for all of us that we just do not want to "deal" with the daily process of living. Whether it be bills, jobs, children, family, friends, death, nature's destruction, or the "world" in general, all of us go through a period of thinking, "I just handle this anymore". Faith and wisdom for me, is the "rock of granite", a foundation to stand upon, when the "winds and storms of life" try to blow me away from the things I believe in the most. Family, love, honestly, truthfulness, friends, "taking time to smell the roses", and believing in ones self are just a few of the most important things in life for me.

Oddly enough, when things are the worst, is when I feel my writing is the best. I think back over the past 7 years of my life, reflecting upon my own thoughts and feelings. When I was alone, in the black ink darkness of the pits of much of my own making, and I felt I was down for the last "count"; I would write all night long, then half of the next day. Everyday, words poured out of me, like a raging flood. It was like a sweet "addiction", where all of the love, anger, sadness, glory, shame, and other multitudes of emotions, I had held inside for much too long spewed forth. I am not sure why, but once I finally "took the wheel" of my own life, and turned it around, my writing seemed to become more difficult, words did not come to me, and I wondered if I had "lost" that piece of myself. I have come to realize, the answer is a definite "no"...I have not lost anything, but gained everything. My life has gone from loneliness and heartbreak, to contentment and harmony. Instead of having to pour upon page after page what I wanted, hoped and dreamed for, all of those dreams have came true. I have evolved, not that I have changed that much, but my life has dramatically changed. My "artistic" nature now comes out in other mediums, graphic and web design, playing and enjoying music once again, and my writing has not "disappeared", but just does not "prevail" as it did back when I was engrossed in trying to pull my own life together, and escape the painful heartaches that came from the abuse I suffered, from a person back then, that was supposed to have "loved" me. My poetry, or most of it, reflects, what I wanted more than life itself and that was to find the love of my life, and have him love me back, in the same way. It was a call, a cry out into the night, for my soul mate, my best friend, my lover, and the one I knew existed in this world to "appear" and be not just a "dream" but be in my life as a reality. My writing, still is and was back then, my way of releasing and venting the anger and frustration of the horrid past pain, of people that just do not care about others, and those that not only hurt me, but hurt others that are in their path also.

Funny, there have been times, someone will "read" a poem or piece of writing, that I have completed, then "point out" to me a "spelling error". Well, that is great and fine, but if they are looking for "grammatical" errors, I feel they surely missed the whole point of what I wrote and what they read. I will never forget and should read again, a wonderful book about writing. "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg, which in the past four years has had an incredible influence upon my writing. I am not quoting her exact words, but basically, she says to just write, not to worry about grammar, spelling, or any of that, or even the subject, but to just sit down everyday and write. Even when you feel it is "crap" write it anyway. She talks about her 100's of notebooks full, and ironically, way before I read her book, I had probably filled 50 or more notebooks full, not counting all of the writing I did daily on the computer. I put pen to paper, for it takes you to a different realm of writing, you think more, something about an actual piece of paper, and feeling the pen on it, gives you another "view" to write from. Sitting at the computer, and typing is definitely faster, easier to read (if you saw my handwriting), and you don't have to be concerned about later typing it out. With me, due to the fact my "tornadic" mind is in about a million places at once, typing it out is always quicker, but not always better for me. It takes a huge amount of discipline to stop...sit down...take out your notebook.... and think as you make each stroke on the paper. Being in the "techie" age, gives me the ability, to put down a few lines in a text editor, save it, and hope later, the thought process will continue, and is usually does.

Natalie Goldberg's book is truly down to Earth, and I would suggest everyone to read it, whether you are a "writer" or not. Much of her book honestly, is about life, and how she applies it to her own writing. I feel we all have the ability to do just as she talks about "Free the writer within". Many of us, just like me, are our own worst critics, so we do not paint, cook, write, play sports, sing, or whatever else we may "want" to do inside, for "fear" of failure. There is no failure to art or life!!!!! Whether you can play "chopsticks" on the piano, or cook a gourmet meal, all is a form of living and art.

As usual, I sat down here this evening, honestly thinking about my Dad, his upcoming surgery, and his health, along with all of the trauma of the anniversary of 9-11, tomorrow, plus the devastation of the hurricanes, in the Caribbean and Florida, with another one on the way. I also, had in mind, my own problems, health wise, and the past several weeks of illness, cars being broken into, paychecks not coming due to the hurricane, paperwork I have to complete, my dog back in Texas almost dying, and an array of just "crap" that life throws our way. I know it is not just me, but even a couple of my friends, it seems when it "rains it pours", when it comes to life and way it decides to hand out to us at times.

"And so, not much of what I thought I would "write from the soul" surfaced, but other thoughts did, and I close, with this.... life is always a dance, sometimes in a fire, where the flames lick your body and soul, yet sometimes in a deep dark well leaving you searching for the light again, sometimes we think we know it all, yet we can never tell. So, just dance, even if your toes are being stepped upon, 'tis better than sitting alone."

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