“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde
“I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.” Annie Dillard
“A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.” Eudora Welty
A rainy Sunday spent among storytellers: What can be finer, more uplifting? My afternoon started out on a delicious note when I had lunch in a small cafe in my hometown. There, I was served a delicious omelette and an artistically adorned hot chocolate that was truly a thing of beauty. Ava, the lovely young woman who created it saw the cover of the book I was reading, The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin, and asked me about it.
I showed it to her and she said, “If you like this, I think you’ll love the Red Tent.” “Oh, I’ve read that, what a beautiful book!” Then she told me she was a high-school junior who loved reading and wanted to be a writer. She’s started a novel, but was too busy with schoolwork to keep going. I gave her a few ideas and shared my blog address with her. What a joy: Hot chocolate on a cold, rainy day and a chance chat with a fellow book lover!
My next stop: an open mic hosted by The Write Group. Many of my friends were reading and I was there to support them and to hear their stories and poetry. What an inspiring afternoon overflowing with serious daring! There was a saga told by the daughter whose father had kept a journal while hidden from the Nazis by Polish farmers. Years after her father died, the daughter found the journal and had it translated and published — a gift to her father’s memory and to the world.
My friend and wonderful poet Ron brought Aristotle and Freud together at a New Jersey bus stop — what joyful literary chutzpah! Then there was Ron’s son, Raymond, whose work is always brave, inventive, arresting. One gifted young woman, Debby, read a lively opening to a novel whose heroine has a revealing, touching obsession with buttons. My writing buddy Carl shared a moving story about never having played catch with his dad.
As I listened to other friends and fellow poetry lovers Pat, Phillipa, Martha, and Kathy share their lovely work, I was struck by just how bold we writers are. The territory we explore is unbounded, inexhaustible, as vast as the human heart. It takes serious daring to explore its pain and joy, and to share what we’ve discovered with the rest of the world. Write on!