This I Believe

Keith - Brattleboro, Vermont
Entered on February 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity

There was a period in my late teens when I would take solitary walks through the neighborhood in which I had always lived, wandering among familiar streets, becoming aware of trivial things, such as a drooping power line or a curtained window. I remember surreal moments when an occasional house seemed to possess a facial expression — as if the secret lives of the people within had somehow seeped into the foundation, the wood beams and the surrounding windows. Witnessing houses in such instances, they appeared less like inanimate structures than slow-breathing organisms.

Today I spend most time indoors, often unable to leave the apartment due to an undiagnosed muscle condition. Opening my laptop, I continue revising a book of poems or a short novel, both in the works for several years. Yet, ten years ago, straying through those familiar streets, I would never have imagined myself to be an aspiring author. In or out of the classroom, I dreaded any activity that required me to write. It was not until my 19th year, when a two-day, hitchhiking excursion across Colorado profoundly affected me, that I felt compelled to pick up a pen and record the details so I would not forget. And from journaling, a passion slowly but gradually evolved.

Originally, I wrote to express and record interesting experiences and thoughts that occurred. But over the years, the motive behind the writing impulse shifted in subtle ways. Certain works of literature, philosophy, poetry, and more indirectly the authors themselves, left deep impressions and worked their way into my sense of identity. Now, I strive to capture that magical feeling of discovery I encountered in those books or when on the road and in nature, or evoked when listening to passionate music, watching a powerful movie, immersed in conversation — that feeling of rediscovering the world in a new light, of having my understanding altered and my excitement for life heightened and amplified.

I am endlessly amazed that language has the capacity to reveal aspects of existence not widely known or yet recognized. This has changed my view of writing as not simply a means of expression but also a means of communion… when each word becomes cellular, as it were. Each sentence a tissue. Each paragraph an organ. Each finished or half-finished piece of writing an embodiment of human presence.

However, any situation, from the most ordinary of activities or objects to near-traumatic events, has the potential to reveal the world as raw presence.

And with this understanding I approach writing, simply with the intention to participate, in some meaningful way, with the presence around me.

Words offer a kind of anonymous intimacy. They enable people who might never meet to connect and participate in each other’s life, to engage in a brief or lasting communion. One that may influence a person’s life, or, at the very least, offer temporary comfort.

I write, because this I believe.