Occasionally I write a letter to a writer whose work I respect and/or adore and share what I have been working on. Four years ago, I wrote Tom Robbins, my favorite novelist, a long letter describing my life in a style I don’t use here. I was being light. I was trying to get a handle on a series of events, events I haven’t yet described in this blog. The letter to Robbins was not only my way of communicating appreciation for his work but was also an attempt to put into words something I’d never tried to put into words before.
Tom’s response, “Your fascinating letter of 16 December caught up with me yesterday in this distant outpost, and I have to say it (your epistle) was more interesting and compelling than any novel I’ve read in the past few years. Banks of thanks for “blabbing” about your life (and quite a life it’s been) in such a richly rewarding manner….” He went on to ask about one of the studies I cited regarding a percentage of the population exhibiting left-handedness with features a lot like the characters in his books.
As I have noted perhaps far too often in these entries, I’m more than a little insecure about my ability to successfully communicate my evolution ideas and experiences in my life. With time, I feel more facile with words and confident that what I experience I can share. With the diminution of the feeling of isolation, the accompanying self-aggrandizement also fades, which is good. Wrestling with putting into words five major lifelong dream themes and the hidden events those themes often represented is part of what I wrote Robbins about. I recently put the whole thing into words, about 30 pages, but I neglected to accompany the writing with the lighter touch I used in writing the Robbins letter. Getting the whole thing out of me felt more like excavating a mouthful of molar roots, a wrenching epiphanic release, not an attempt at providing a way for another person to share the experience.
Writing is not just getting the words out, but getting the words out in a way that allows another person to get in. When writing about evolutionary theory, this means coming back again and again to the same material from different directions, seeking metaphors and narrative trails that allow easy ways to access the ideas. This blog often comes back to the same themes as I seek effective ways to communicate the central issues. Understanding maturation as integral to evolution involves understanding how different disciplines are actually studying maturation by a number of different names.
When it comes to describing what’s happened in my life, the challenge is yanking down those elevated experiences to make the wordless into words, while at the same time detraumatizing the horrendous to a degree that a visitor would be able to embrace it. That involves my being able to embrace it. That involves my writing from a position of compassion. Compassion for self and the others that were involved.
I suspect these two different goals, making theory understandable and making my life accessible, are more than a little bit related. The theory emerged in 1997, almost exactly five years after the dreams had begun to emerge that resulted in personal revelations about a year later. Both were integrally tied to the relationships I was having with women at the time. Love and loss of love, for me, has everything to do with whether the world makes sense or not. The evolution theory emerged from a context where love, at last, felt integrated and understood. I would not be exploring the origins of what it is to be human, a metaphor for an exploration of my self, without Marcia in my life.
The Tom Robbins letter that I just rediscovered gives me confidence that I can make my life into words that can move a person. I’ll try again to turn the dental distress into something like a black, white and grey wedding dress. There are ways to marry horror and love so that understanding and compassion result.