Just this morning I had a revelation. And this might seem like a totally pretentious thing for me to say. But it is 3:30 in the morning, and I've had a hell of a night, and so I'm going to say it anyway. I had a revelation and it was this: I've become a writer--without even realizing it. Don't freak out. I'm not saying that I am a good writer. But I probably spend more time now in my life writing than I do reading. And I've always thought of myself as a reader (let's face it, after female, daughter, sister, and Oregonian, it is probably the identity category I am most likely to attribute to myself). But in terms of sheer time commitment, I now write more than I read. Not just the blog--but emails, and comments to students, and other stuff too. I write daily. And sometimes for hours a day. And that is a big deal for someone who has always fought her writing. So it was an interesting thing to realize, and maybe a teeny tiny bit of a personal triumph, if I can be a little self indulgent for a moment.
And then I had a rather extraordinary day. Not extraordinary in terms of the world--I didn't take over another country, or walk on the moon, or give birth to eight babies at once, or anything like that. But I had a day that was not ordinary for me. That was more than ordinary. And as I drove home tonight and thought about that day, I was reminded about how woefully inadequate all my attempts at conveying my own experience in words really are. I could try to tell you about my day, but you might not understand why or how it was extraordinary. You might believe me when I tell you that is my experience of it, but you don't know it. You go on faith that I am reporting something as true, or as true as it can be.
I can tell you that I love someone. And I can even try to characterize that love--I can say that I love someone like a brother. Or that I feel platonic love. Or that I feel the remnants of romantic love. But the truth is, everyone that I love, I love differently. And there aren't words to describe those differences. And sometimes the differences are so slight (yet so profound) that there just aren't words to convey the subtlety. I can't explain the color or tone of the love I feel for a particular person. And I also know (or rather, believe,) that no two people who love me love me in the same way. I know this because their love feels different to me. Yet we have this one word that we try to make fit in all kinds of situations with other words that can't possibly express the nuances involved and we hope that other people know-what-we-mean.
Listen, I'm not saying anything that other people, much smarter and more articulate people, haven't said before me and better. All I'm saying is that today (tonight, tomorrow, now--I guess) I am especially struck by the folly of all of us trying to express ourselves. Writing, speaking, reading one another. Trying to do it better. Trying to be more transparent, more efficient, more eloquent, more creative. Trying to communicate experience so that we feel more connected. So that we feel understood.
This is what I do for a living--at least for now. I try to help people do this. And it is a losing battle.