Ernest Hemingway gave some advice to aspiring writers and his advice was: “…All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know…”
As my title for this piece suggests, I am drifting way from political topics and picking up some themes that are dearer to me, and really are me. My truest sentence is: I need to find my own way. I am not a follower and my nature would never let me be one. I need to sort things out for myself, come to my own conclusions, make my own mistakes, and hopefully, find some basic truth to be my true north.
Ken Burns, the great historian and documenter of history did a piece on Ernest Hemingway and in the piece, Ken Burns said, “…Hemingway was a great noticer of things…” and this found its way into his writing. Being a noticer is how we learn about life and our interaction with the places where we are. My father used to suggest that I go out and just sit down in the woods and be quiet and still, and notice what is going on. It would take a while for the normal life of the woods to return as I disturbed it on my entry, but if I was patient and still, I would soon be part of where I was. I learned so much about the natural world from doing this and also I learned about myself. I learned I needed this time of peace and the absence of intrusions from the outside world. I needed this “thinking time.” In my later life, trout fishing on a brook has provided me with this quiet thinking time my psyche demands. There is an old Scottish proverb that goes like this: “Listen to the silence. Be still. And let your soul catch up.” If someone is struggling with a thought to carve into some cemetery monument marking my final resting place, I hope they use this proverb. I am a product of my lineage.
Growing up, I was blessed like many of my generation to have grandparents that had a footprint in the prior century. They were my connection to the past, my anchor to a way of life that pulled at my heart strings. I soaked in all their stories like a desperate sponge always thirsty for more. This made my life richer and I am forever grateful. Now, I have times and places in my head from another time and they help me to be myself. I need this more than I can express in words. I need that old way of rural life that was still present in the Vermont of my childhood and my grandparents helped me to keep it alive. This is the “a way of life” I refer to.
In so many ways, I am like a fish out of water in the present. It does not appeal to me and the loss of simplicity makes me weary. I find myself often in a sect by myself. I am not a comfortable fit in most of what is going on. I am a “noticer” and not oblivious to the present, but it is the present I reject and rebel against. I need to be an umpire and blow a whistle on the present and call a “time out.”
My writing will increasingly come from the quiet place where I am “…letting my soul catch up.” I will be leaving the commentary on the present and saving my strength for what I can do and trust my own thoughts. I will be more involved with what I have learned first hand and continue to do so. This is what is real for me.
“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” (Minnie Aumonier)
I have a garden to get ready and plant. It is the time to do this.