“Creation, according to Dora-Rouge, was an ongoing thing.” -Linda Hogan, Solar Storms
Sometimes I’m tempted to “finish,” to add the last piece, and brush my hands, and move on. I want to do something drastic, final, and get to the end already. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I like puzzles, and find a missing piece so frustrating. I want to finish, and I can’t.
One day last semester, when I came into work, I ran into a friend who was having a hard time. There were plenty of reasons why. We talked about some of them, sitting at our desks, the morning light changing and the electric lights holding steady. After a little while, I noticed that in talking I was looking for a narrative or a solution that would make the hurt go away, or else “use it” somehow. He’s a writer, and I was trying to help him “get through this” or “use this” and “get back to writing.” Make this useful. Make it move. Move on. That’s a worldview I fall into a lot, a worldview of finishing and putting on the shelf, of earning trophies (like stuffing moose heads) and fixing them on the wall to never touch again. Sometimes I want to do something to show I’ve done something. To prove something. To create, and understand, and have it set.
Of course, my friend’s a person as well as a writer, and a friend, and a son, and a dude in a beanie, and lots of other things. I don’t think he’ll do something that proves he’s worthwhile; I don’t think he needs to. He isn’t a finished product: when I try to think what he is, I stumble more toward verbs than nouns. A runner? Maybe, but certainly someone who runs, down streets and under trees, leaving behind and finding. A writer? Okay—but more so someone who writes, who listens, who wonders, who slips through doors I didn’t see because they didn’t quite exist until he reached out and opened them. And opening changes them. And walking through changes them. And they’ll keep changing, these doors he opens, these moments he feels, these paths he walks.
Instead of talking about how to deal with his grief, about freewriting or sharing or sitting under a tree, we ended up just talking about the grief. We ended up standing in it, and once we did, we found other things, too. Some fears. Some hopes. Or maybe, more clearly, we hoped, we feared, we cared, we reached and rested. The day pulled us along, and we pulled it, and all that was ongoing.