My oldest son spoke this phrase to me, the title of a book he’s reading:
You are what you love.
That’s like being handed a toy for the mind. Something to turn round and round, to consider from every angle: What does this do? More importantly: What do I do with this?
I love my little granddaughters. But I am not my granddaughters. I am their Franna. No existential crisis here; we know who we are. We revel in each other.
I love books, but I am not books. Books might be me, however; their words, images, scenes, stories, live in my brain. They change me. They become part of who I am. They fuse themselves to me so that I carry them with me ever after. No, that’s the content. The stuff of books is me. Not the actual books. But I am neither of those.
I love birds, have always loved birds, even got a yellow parakeet for my sixth birthday. I watch for birds daily out here in the North Carolina countryside, especially hawks. Birds inspire me, lift my spirit, fill me with wonder. I write of them (and their symbolism) often. I’m not sure I could ever keep a bird in a cage again. But I am not birds, as much as my heart goes soaring after them or sings in response to them…and don’t even get me started on dogs.
I love my husband and am DEFINITELY not him. I love my home and…well, here maybe the lines begin to blur a bit. I can see where I might be my home, in a sense. I love my church. It’s a given that the people are the church, not the building itself. Some people love their work so much that they are their work, so there’s that.
I love my memories…oh, what a thought, me being my memories, my memories being me. Some great truth is at work here…
And now, just now, what comes to mind is a student at school who loves making little dragons out of paper. She gave me one recently along with a little paper tree (because “a dragon is nothing without his tree,” she said). Every day, more little paper dragons. She loves them. She is not them, although they’re enchanting and so is she, their creator. When she passes me in the hallway: Come and see my new ones. I have a butterfly dragon and I want to make a dragonfly dragon…look, this one is an ice-wing…they’re all colored with bright markers in superb patterns and one day she showed me a tiny paper dragon resting in a tent she’d made, somewhat like a royal litter, complete with tiny paper quilt.
She is not the paper dragons…but maybe she’s more than the artist. She loves creating the dragons. In doing so, she is creating something more of herself, within. Constantly.
Which brings me to writing.
I love writing.
Maybe I am writing. Maybe writing is me. I live in a constant state of composition as much as the girl making her paper dragons. A new thing unfurls in my mind (like you are what you love) and I am writing around it before I can get to a pencil or screen. The thing blooms like a rose, layer upon circular layer, grows like one of those capsules that expands after you toss it in water, waiting to see what shape it will take, what animal it will become. I don’t want the ideas, sensations, images, patterns to escape…they have meaning that I want to explore. Interconnected threads I need to follow. The snowy hawk perched on the power line, looking across an icy field. The cognizance in my four-month-old granddaughter’s eyes. The wide-flung arms of her six-year-old sister. The myriad notes from piano keys under my youngest son’s dancing fingers, the earnestness in his voice when he sings. Being on my corner of the couch, wrapped in a blanket, book in hand or laptop in lap. Dennis the dachshund burrowing under the blanket to snuggle close. My husband’s contagious, uninhibited laughter. The fragrance of cinnamon, like Christmas, and Vick’s VapoRub, like long ago, and memories, so many memories, that still live…
I really am all these things. They are me. Story is inextricable from life. Story goes on and on. We are story.
And that, I love.
with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March. This is my sixth year participating.