“Write what you know.”
That’s what they say – the anonymous ‘They’ so often quoted when the speaker is trying to weight their opinion – as though knowing something enables you to write about it; as though through knowing, your writing would make sense.
I could write what I know. I could tell you so much of my world…
I could describe in minute detail the barbell I work out with, its length starred with knurling diamonds guttered by chalk. I could wax lyrical about the stance, the tensing, the sudden wavering of mind “Can I lift it? Really?”, the dusting of palms with white powder, and the feeling of doing things properly simultaneous with the bubbling internal laughter when I remember instructions to ‘hate the bar’ and my absolute inability to do so, preferring instead to envisage it floating upwards as my muscles take the strain.
I could snuggle you up in my memories of lazy Saturday mornings with Niece, her small form tucked against me on the sofa as we wake up slowly to a movie of her choice. I could wrap you in the blankets and juggle you around with the plates and cups and elbows such a breakfast-time endeavour seems to involve.
I could tie you in knots of scar tissue and limit your movement; let you feel the pinch and burn as bones not meant to be tethered there or there try to pull away and move normally, but can’t. I could throw you over the front of the car I remember seeing so vividly, so unnaturally, underneath me as I flew. I could infuse you with all the indignance, rage, and adrenaline I felt, so you were fit to get up and fly at the stupid sod who hit you, even as the gentle hands of strangers hold you still on the cold, dark ground.
I could wrack you with the anguish of knowing that however much you poured out from your financial or emotional ‘pots’; however much time you spent doing, you could never provide more than a drop of balance in an ocean of need. I could swamp you with guilt for your abundance, knight you with the nobility of your intentions and cut the legs from under you with the humiliation that comes from feeling noble about helping in the first place. I could drown you in that quagmire and render you useless to anyone, then shamed by the knowledge you’d then become a taker – an addition to the sea of help required. I could set your inner voice on a tearful repeat; “Las Vegas, Catalonia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Myanmar, Syria, Sierra Leone, Egypt…”
I could tantalise you with freshly chopped bright colours and the tang of herbs. I might rub your fingertips through the spices and let you taste their fragrance. I could heat your hands and arms and belly with the sizzle of cooking and warm your soul with the liberation of knowing nothing sentient died to feed you. I could fill you with delicious joyfulness and the delight of knowing every mouthful is good for you.
I could torture you with near-sleep visions of giant hooks crashing into your body, ripping you apart, spearing your flesh and stretching until your very cells split apart and you become two, or three, or more, yet never bleeding as you realise you were already dead. I could lie you helpless as sharp spikes loomed ever closer, nudging your shoulderblades and spine ready to pierce. I could repeat the scenarios every night until you became immune, shrugged, and watched them play out as you drifted to dreamland, dying over and over again, not caring.
I could whisper of the yearning for the perfect One, and couple it tenderly with the knowledge that such a One rarely exists beyond the covers of someone else’s story. I could stroke your innermost thoughts with the tantalising idea that for some people, somewhere, it really, *really* works out, and it’s oh, so, SO very good. I could take you away from your loneliness and solitude, and wrap you in the arms of thoughts of togetherness. I could kiss you goodnight with the hope you’ll be one of the lucky ones.
I could tell you my world. I could tell you so you felt it.
But what I haven’t figured out how to do (yet) is tell you someone else’s.
They say there’s a book in everyone, and perhaps that’s true. Maybe some of us are walking around with veritable libraries of possibility hidden away in our insides. There are other worlds, They say, other ideas, which are just Out There waiting to be thought of – waiting for that one special person to cop on and bring them into being. It’s a wonderful fantasy. I imagine the ideas as small balls of bright blue light, floating around our planet – an extra orbit of stars only visible when one opens up the mind to look for them. In the case of an individual hitting upon the right train of thought, the ball of light, sensing this, zeroes in and docks in their brain, pouring out its glorious energy through their mind and body until the idea comes into being in whatever form that might take.
To me, the idea of creating an entire new world, with beings to populate it, a superstructure for events to take place within, an emotional context, and (somewhere along the way) a beginning, middle, and end of the point of it all, is astonishing. That some are talented and dedicated enough to do that, amazes me. That they make it consistent enough for you and me to believe, leaves me awestruck.
I couldn’t manage it. I fear I would lose you along the way, let you down. I just don’t think it could be close enough to what I know, without actually being…yaknow…me. There’s a fine line of balance there I’ve yet to discover – the art of being similar enough to work with, yet distinct enough not to blur into my reality – and as I once discovered, I am the kind of person who can fall off a pilates mat from lying down.
Perhaps I just need to open my mind…but I’ve a feeling it takes a lot more than that.