These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.” –Jose Ortega y Gasset
BreakageBY MARY OLIVERI go down to the edge of the sea.How everything shines in the morning light!The cusp of the whelk,the broken cupboard of the clam,the opened, blue mussels,moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.It’s like a schoolhouseof little words,thousands of words.First you figure out what each one means by itself,the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallopfull of moonlight.Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.
What is there to write about unless we share in the story of the shipwrecked? I don’t trust someone who gives me advice on how to walk across rushing waters, leave the dead, or deal with the broken parts of myself when they remain comfortable on some deck chair of a fantasy cruise ship. I’m not saying they are not broken, they are. They just don’t let themselves feel or know about their broken parts. Can there be a love story, on or off the page, where hearts remain unbroken and unspoken?
You don’t have to walk in my shoes to know or appreciate my jagged journey. You do have to walk your own path and have met up with its edges and dark passages, if you want me to believe what you have to say.
We can only love ourselves into wholeness from a place that is not whole, not yet complete. We must let the curiosity of our lives pull us forward. The beginning is the same for each of us: We cry out as babes for wholeness, happiness and union. After that, we write our stories on how we find and lose our wholeness, happiness and unions. And find them again.
The shipwrecked discover these qualities first inside the broken hull of ourselves. This is what lets us see beyond ourselves and into the hearts of others. Union becomes possible.
The ending too is the same for each of us: We cry out as babes as we let go of everything and everyone we cherish. Because this is how it goes, we can ask ourselves: what is truly important here?
Answering that question of what really matters?, takes the vulnerability of an open, shining, courageous heart. We open to ourselves and to the other, we speak of and with emotions, we cry out, we split in half, we write from the edge without falling off, we let ourself want what we want.
So, go down to the edge of the sea, or street, meet up with what’s there
write about that.
Free writing retreat this Friday, September 22nd.