THE DARK SIDE
How does one begin to paint a picture in black when one has been using a palette of green to blue to red and every hue in between? Shades of grey edged in somber coal, murky and thick with emotion. I sit at my keyboard where optimism normally nudges my fingers across the letters like one of those old Ouija Boards, mysterious forces that always seem to know the secrets hidden deep inside. I spend my life cheering others up; I write in order to find the positive of any situation, no matter how dark, a kind of therapy or catharsis, always able to stand up and walk away from the computer feeling just a bit better. But as I sit at my desk, chin nestled heavily in the palm of my upturned hand, or my body curved into the corner of the sofa pondering over the words, the sentences, the paragraphs that spill out of my brain and my heart and onto the pristine white document in front of me, I wonder what I should write about, how deeply to delve.
Every life is touched by despair, personal failure, death of a loved one, anguish and sorrow that shape who we are, if ever so gently. Melancholy that hovers over us, day in and day out, smile smeared across our face, a constant battle with our own worse demons no matter how brave a face we present to the outside world. I have been filling pages with bits and pieces of stories – my story – that will one day be organized and filled in to create a whole. A tough project under any circumstances, yet what continues to elude me is the angle: Where do I begin? How much do I cover? Is this just an enchanting jaunt through the exciting moments of my life? A humorous account of my decision to drop everything and run away to Paris? A romance to end all romance stories of my marriage to a dashing young Frenchman, just another fairytale of American girl escaping to the City of Lights to find love and passion, an intriguing tale offered up on a rose-strewn silver platter of Champagne and caviar?
Or do I go further, dig deeper, tell the “True Life Narrative” of why someone would run away to Paris, how living in this magnificent country may be romantic and enchanting indeed, filled with silliness and humorous faux pas yet scattered with tears and more difficult than others like to portray in popular fiction? I have written in a previous post about how my life is truly incomplete without the sadness that allows me to appreciate how wonderful the happiness is. Touching on my own brother’s illness and death and the gaping hole it has left in my life, the hurt I feel every single day is only part of it. The pain of watching a child hurt and angry, his mistrust keeping him from living his life and reaching his true potential is excruciating agony that has kept us awake at night and tormented during the day. But that is still not enough. The dark tunnel that I have walked through day after day, year after year, yearning for a glimpse of the brilliant light off in the distance that never comes, slogging through mud, feet heavy as in a dream… does one write about this? Devote a chapter to the obscure, bleak moments of a life, those moments that in fact led to where I am now?
There are things that I have spoken of with no one, not even my husband to whom I am an open book. Maybe I have simply been looking for an excuse to share the sordid details with someone, anyone; possibly after keeping these dark secrets buried deep inside of me for all of these years there is an inherent need to purge myself of these tortuous demons. But is there a place for this in any story I could tell? But if truth be told, my truth, then how can I possibly write bits and pieces of my life without speaking of the essential, of what makes me me? Ah, painting a picture in brilliant reds, feminine pinks, soothing blues, cheerful yellows, by necessity there needs be spots of black, streaks of grey hovering at the edges; silent ghosts and chimeras peeping around the joy, laughter sometimes muted by silent tears.
And why do I write at all? To what purpose? I love the physical, the intellectual, the emotional act of writing; like a joyous, rambunctious childhood game or a very-adult sensual experience, it is exhilarating, exciting, even liberating; frustration and dissatisfaction transformed through concentration and hard work, blood, sweat and tears! into the perfect phrase, the perfect sentiment, an idea captured in black and white just as I imagined it. Yet the goal, that intended purpose, is hidden behind all of those descriptive, perfect words, sneaking in unexpectedly, surprising the reader with meaning. Thus giving this author an even deeper sense of satisfaction and purpose.
And why write a book at all if it is not to convey a message, weighty with substance? Every book must have some significance if one doesn’t want to fall into the domain of fluff. I ask myself these questions as my fingers fly across the keyboard. I am a writer with a passion for writing about food and culture, a goal to create pieces for magazines, so why this yearning to write a story of my life, or at least convey bits and pieces of that life, sandwiched between two covers? These questions grow larger each and every day as this craving grows stronger, as the thoughts and ideas take shape in my head, as my goal becomes clearer and now it has all spilled over onto my humble little blog, a blog that will slowly transform with my own transformation. Life, after all, is a feast.
And then we return to the question of darkness.