Are You a Pond-Skater or a Starfish? ~ Inside a Writer’s Head

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There are times when being blessed with the power to carve worlds with words seems more a curse than anything to be grateful for.

Times when the last thing I want to be able to do is find words for experiences, senses and emotions that are beautiful simply because they are intimately personal and inexpressible. And yet the urge to anchor them into words so that they can be communicated is so great that it ends up rendering them impoverished, bastardized – prostituted for the greater good of general understanding.

How can words ever adequately describe the depths and subtleties of our lives? And yet some of us are cursed with the unceasing need to translate them into a verbal reality. Or maybe the unceasing urge is to plumb the depths and the need arises from a necessity to convey those realities to others who have not yet discovered them.

There are times when I would put down this burden – this never-ending attraction to the undercurrent. But would I be happy as a pond-skater, skimming along on life’s surface oblivious to the vibrant life below? Could I resist for long the need to plunge down just to see what is going on? And could I then resist returning to the surface to describe for disbelieving others what I’ve seen?

Now and again, I try to turn away – just for a while, just to forget that I’ve taken up the challenge, long denied, of ‘being’ a writer. I take a break, time to look at the stars, to stare at the seaweed floating up from its anchor off the rocky shoreline. But the wonder of the universe above my head and beneath my feet only serves to fire my soul even more, to connect me ever more powerfully to the eternal prayer which is life. And the yearning to communicate that reality to others, through a language they understand, becomes even stronger.

I might wish I was a pond-skater – with its lightness and delicacy – but I guess I’m some kind of a benthic organism, perhaps a starfish at best. We can’t be both. And the two don’t mix particularly well. So you won’t find me at parties, unless I’m in the corner ‘diving in deep’ with kindred souls from the abyssal depths. And you won’t find me happily shooting the breeze with girlfriends. But throw me into wildness and intensity, and I’ll show you what I’m made of. Give me a day with my shadow – or that of others – and we’ll emerge best buddies.

It’s just the way I’m made. And I know I’m not alone, although benthic creatures are not always easy to spot, as they lurk in the shadows. Sometimes we don a mask so we can slip by on the surface for a while, unrecognized. But there are more of us around than pond-skaters might like to think. And many of us are writers.

So, here’s to my fellow bottom-feeding writers (now, why does that sound so obscene?) – may you find happiness in the depths!

3 comments

  1. Freya, sometimes, I have wondered if what you write is fiction. Amazingly enthralling, captivating, fascinating, stringing together of words. But at the same time, i was never sure if it was part of your real life( letters to a lost lover). But, with this “starfish” piece, I know its about you.

    • John, I wonder if there ever is a clear line between the two? At least with fiction, the reader is free to simply read and enjoy without having to contend with belief 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting.

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