Saturday, July 7, 2012
Going to my happy place....
I have a private happy place. As a kid growing up in Scituate, MA, the one place I always loved was the lighthouse down on the coast of Scituate. I can sit out on the jetty for extended periods of times looking across the Atlantic thinking about how Europe is on the other side of that body of water and wonder, is there someone sitting over on the coast of France looking at me thinking, "Wow, next stop America!"
I have been known to throw fruit off the jetty as an offering to Mother Ocean. I treat the fruit like trouble dolls, whispering my pain and worries to them before I toss them away for Mother Ocean to hear and whisper back later. Sometimes her voice is soft and subtle - responding with me noticing a particular point of beauty that answers my question. Sometimes it's a particular poem or passage in a favorite story. Sometimes it's as intense as hitting me upside the head with a cosmic clue by four. (Admit it, we've all had that moment.)
I remember standing on the edge of the inner jetty that divides Scituate Harbor from the ocean during a storm. It was too dangerous to go out on the outer jetty that extends into the ocean and my normal place for reflection, so I got as close as I could and screamed through my anger and tears at G-d. I demanded to know why there was suffering in the world and why did my boys have to experience that suffering in particular? I screamed my anger into the wind, my tears mixing with the salty spray of the water and I clearly heard an answer.
"I am a father too," the voice said.
Standing alone on the jetty, I realized what I heard in that moment. My Creator suffers along with me when I suffer too. In that moment my happy place transformed to something more. It grew to a place of understanding.
Sometimes, as a writer, I feel that's my job. Even in the silly and mundane my words will to help someone understand in a moment, whatever it is they are feeling when they take refuge in my work, they are not alone. Someone else understands their pain, joy, frustrations or victories. It may be a bit inflated to think that I can be a tool of those forces beyond all of us, but that's what writers do. Whether it was someone approaching me to say a particular column I wrote made a difference in their lives or watching a student go from "Do I have to write?" to "I can't wait to share this piece I wrote with you...."
We all have our happy places, physical and emotional. As a writer, I realize that my role - conscious or not - is to help guide others to their happy place as well.