My playwrighting coach once said that “every play begins in silence.” In the same way, when we come to a fresh page, we enter the land of possibility. Anything can happen! Anything can find its way into the worlds we create there: peaceable kingdoms, corner drugstores, divine dervishes, dayglow riverboats, forest pools where wood sprites dance — all manner of inkstained magic.
The page can be a miraculous place. I was reminded of this when I rediscovered a lyrical passage from Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh — a meditative musing about a single sheet of paper. Here it is:
“If you are a poet, you will see that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.
Without a cloud, there will be no water: without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this paper is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we humans cannot grow without sunshine….Therefore you see sunshine is in this sheet of paper. And if you look more deeply, with the eyes of a bodhisattva, with the eyes of those who are awake, you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here: the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger’s father — everything is in this sheet of paper.”
Lovely, isn’t it, to think that one page, the very page I’m writing on in this moment, contains whole worlds within it? That we can call upon the energy of the cosmos captured in a sheet of paper when we sit down to write? Who needs Aladdin’s lamp when we have such power flowing through our fingertips? What wishes lie beyond our own command?