Bare branches

The photographer who took this picture is a local guy. (Click on the picture to see more gorgeous photography from realkuhl) You can see by this picture that he really sees the Columbia Gorge - for much of the year, it looks like this.
The green of growing moss and trees and underbrush infuses the very air here, and for most of the year, the whole world is green. At about this time of the year, the color drops back a little. The world plays its cards closer to the vest. The color settles into the trees and the ground, and the bare branches of formerly leafy trees expose themselves to the elements. Bare branches look cold to me - cold and very brave.

This is a suitable time of the year for me to begin to do the hard stuff at school. The first two essays I wrote were about library things - fun to write, semi-boring topics, very utilitarian information. It was like trying to write a user-friendly instruction manual. The kind of writing that is not the least bit baring for the author. I was not exposed.

But now I will be. Now I get closer to my major, and now I have to tell the truth.

I have begun the third essay for this quarter. The third class I am writing for has the somewhat foofy title of Communication of Self-Esteem. I can barely say the words "self-esteem" and take myself seriously. (Is that words ... or just one word?) But I do know, and I know from experience, that what we think we are tends to be what we do, and that what we do effects what we think we are. I can write for this class. I know the stuff.
But the stuff is about me. My branches are all exposed to the biting east wind. (The picture is from Donald Mark - he has lots of the Gorge - just click on the picture.) PLA essays are personal essays. The impersonal academic research style is not used here. Instead, in these essays, the writer says, "I know this. I know what it means, and here is where I learned it in my own life's experience." This is personal.

Personal, but I need it to be beautiful. I cannot stop the compulsion to be artful with the words I use.

And I need not only to be honest, and personal, but I also need to be authentic. Original. I am the only one with my point of view. (Although that's another thing --- if nobody else can see what I see, I am probably standing in a hole. That's a grounding issue - a cue to stop gaping at the landscape and check my feet.) For the writing within my major, I must say clearly what I can see from where I am. No one else is here. No one else has had my life. I am the one responsible for this - responsible for the life, and for what it has taught me. Now I have to put it on paper where other people can see it. This is slightly terrifying.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life, and you will save it.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I agree with him. I believe him. This is not really about the credits. This is about serving the Art, and telling the truth about the Artist -- and about me. All I need to do is tell the truth. And trust the evergreen trees and the fact of seasons. The leaves are gone for now, but the water is here. Green always comes back here where I live.


Marchi Wierson said...

"All I need to do is tell the truth." Oh is that all. Have you ever told so much truth your teeth unexpectedly started chattering as you spoke? It begins as a vibration in the belly, and ends up a sincerity tremble all over. Like a little earthquake where the truth starts dislodging itself. ....So, all you need to do is tell the truth. Pinning down truth is like capturing fog. But good luck anyway. of course its a pursuit that must be attempted. It's an endless mountain range of ascents and descents. Truths living side by side, contracting and supporting each other simultaneously. Bring good chocolate.

Stephanie said...

Good golly, I'm glad you found my blog!!! That's it exactly! "A sincerity tremble" indeed. I have to write when no one else is around because when I nail it, I cry. This is not a reaction I wish to discuss with an audience, you know?

There are more of us in our family, by the way. I have to find a way to get you into a conversation with Steve. The way he was talking yesterday about the workings of his body and the ways the music feels ("I'm not 'thinking' ANYthing, mom. I'm in the music.") while he's playing the blues improv on his guitar ... well, the force is strong with this one, ObiWan.