speaking of clouds

If I could clear away the mess in my mind and write to you now some pure and unclouded image, I would. I wish I could. There's nothing keeping me from it except. . . distraction. Tiredness. Hunger. Insecurities. Questions. Plans for the rest of the day. Just write, Maggie. I tell myself this quite often. Just write what's inside you. Ah, but that's hard to do! 

What can I tell you worth saying? What's inside of me that you could possibly want to know? 

How about. . . I like living in Grand Rapids. I feel like it's right for me to be here. Feels like I finally just gave up running and came back to a place where I feel at home and feel at least somewhat normal. 

Is that enough to say for right now?  

And how about this? The sky is a cornflower blue today, and the breeze is cool, like a day in the mountains in Colorado, or a warm summer dawn in Montana, or a perfect, 4 a.m. morning in Maine. Driving down the street with the window open, I felt that breeze and my body went off to I-don't-know-how-many places. Memories--of vacations--of wonder, of traveling to new landscapes, new fields. South Dakota, Washington, Santa Fe. I couldn't say exactly what my body was remembering, but images came to me, and feelings of freedom, of peace and adventure.

. . .I was recently discussing how hard it can be to make small talk--asking questions that have no greater significance, or at least don't intend to leave the room. "How are you?," when posed to a random stranger doesn't really mean a lot, does it. It's more of a gesture, a means of breaking an awkward silence. I just had a conversation like this with a barista. I didn't think much of it. These little gestures are simply part of the Midwest culture of speaking nice-isms. 

But I am the type who cannot stand to stay in those places, to have nice-isms stand for the bulk of conversation. I want to talk about what matters. I want to talk about wonder, about freedom, about peace and adventure and pure living. 

This is what matters--at least to me. 

But also, talking about people matters. Writing about people matters: about how we bless and hurt each other, about how we can help each other grow, heal, learn, and to see beauty around us. And it is good to speak and write about the unseen things, about the questions which plague us. This is the space I want to enter. Would you enter it, yourself? 


What can poor mortals say about clouds? . . . Nevertheless, these fleeting sky mountains are as substantial and significant as the more lasting upheavals of granite beneath them. Both alike are built up and die, and in God's calendar, difference of duration is nothing.  

- John Muir, taken from Annie Dillard's For the Time Being