I spent much of December 2016 thinking about my “one little word” for 2017. And as much as I tried, I could not get it down to one. Presence and Radical rang in my ears during the busyness of December, and every time I tried to leave one for the other they barked at me. I’d decide to go with Presence, and Radical would get pissed, screaming in my ear, “You gonna leave me just like that? Ain’t that some ish.” (Yes, Radical is my gangster alter ego). So, then I’d pick up Radical again, apologizing and thinking, “Yes, this world needs more Radical, but in a good way. What is Radical goodness? Let’s find out! Until…”Psst…,” Presence began to call. “It seems a bit oxymoron-ic that you leave me behind. Kinda goes against everything we believe in.” Ugh. Yes. I’m sorry to you, too.
And so I let the dual die and adopted them both as my two little words for 2017. Radical and Presence. Radical Presence. This is a tall order.
I decided to lead with Presence (less screens, more actual voice; less FB groups, more community activism with my neighbors) then follow with the idea of Radical. What is Radical about this moment? Why am I here? Does this moment need change, a voice, an advocate, or just Presence. And then, I write. I take George Orwell’s advice, and I give these ideas a hearing. A space. An existence that is real.
All this mulling of words and moments got me thinking about why I write. When I give these moments their permanent space in my notebook, what do I really want my words to do? Blackout poetry with Terry Tempest Williams’, “Why I Write” gave me my answer.
I cannot control a world that often appears black.
I meet my ghosts.
Begin a dialogue.
Nightmares shatter my sleep.
I forget the pain.
Language allows me to confront that which I do not know.
I soothe the words shouting inside me, outside me.
I believe in words; a dance.
A bow to the wilderness.
A path in darkness.
Grace and grit.
I am starving. I am full.
I write for the children,
for the love of ideas,
for the surprise of a sentence.
I will always fail.
I can be killed by my own words.
Doubt and humiliation threaten.
Pick up the paper.
It doesn’t matter.
Words are always a gamble.
Dangerous; a risk.
Form the words, say the words,
touch the source.
I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.
And so my year of Radical and Presence and Radical Presence begins. My #paperandpassion movement has begun. Stay tuned.