I was going through the archives tonight in search of...something. A sign? Maybe. Something to reassure me. Something to remind me of a better time, and maybe a better and happier me. I mean someone who wasn't weighed down by the stuff that seems to weigh me down now. I know that generally I have been happier in my thirties than I was in my late teens and early twenties. Back then, you could look up "teen angst" in the dictionary and find a photo of me. Also, my twenties were as bumpy and alcohol fueled as anyone else's. Anyway, I found this letter...Yes, I said letter. I have kept almost every letter, postcard and note sent to me since I started college. Yes, I have email and yes, I am slowly becoming addicted to facebook and yes, I have a blog, but I still believe strongly in snail mail. There's something about getting a letter and being able to read it over and over without having to boot up my laptop that makes me feel human. Anyway, it's from friend I haven't seen in close to a year, someone I very rarely see . I don't even remember getting this letter, but there is a lot of mail in that file box that I haven't even looked at in a dozen years, so that's not too weird. (Weird would be knowing exactly what every piece of mail in that box is, who it's from and when I received it.) The minute I opened this one, I started smiling. I could hear my friend's voice in my head telling me these things. But I also smiled because of what was in the letter, the message I was being sent from the past has relevance in my present.
October 25, 1996
Hey kid, I was thinking of you today. And I am writing to let you know it was good to see you at Jenni and Brian's wedding. You seem to be doing rather well. I can say that your writing is going well. I really liked that poem you gave me (Note: I don't remember which poem is being referred to here). I know it's not easy to be honest. Someone far wiser than I once said "To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule; To place your feelings before them is to risk appearing sentimental; To place your ideas before the crowd is to risk involvement. But risks must be taken. Because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. He may avoid suffering sorrow but simply cannot learn to feel and to grow and to love and to live. Chained by his certitude he is a slave, only the person who risks is truly free." WOW
Wow indeed. That's just the first page, but it struck a chord. I've got to take some of the risks I've been too afraid to even consider. I've done it before. It's hard, but how do you know if you don't try? I'm always encouraging friends to "go for it," why can't I encourage myself? Well, I think I know why, but that's for another post. Back to the letter...
In your work Daisy I feel that personal pain, loss and personal hope few can show with such honesty and grace. To be quite honest I've always hated poems. I could never understand them. But as I said I've become a little bit more peaceful to see the beauty of other work and other people. Your poems to me seem like Brazilian jazz. Easily overlooked, beautiful, joyous, free, painful and very personal. Unlike modern rock which can only shout--Brazilian jazz whispers. You can say a lot more with a whisper than you can with a shout.
If anyone else had written that, I might be thinking what you are perhaps thinking right now, "Brazilian jazz? Really?" But, knowing this person the way I do (or did way back when), I get it. The fact that someone I hadn't seen in years, except for a few hours chatting at a friend's wedding, took the time to write that letter means so much to me. I'm glad I kept it. Funny I should find the letter at a time when I've felt like I've been shouting at the rain, in my head anyway, for weeks and weeks. Wherever you are tonight old friend, thanks for your note. It's what I needed to hear right now, a reminder to speak softly and take a big risk.