Damp Traveling and Storytelling
It is damp here in the Dominican Republic. So thick is the muggy heat it feels like an invisible smoke around you. The sun not yet awake with us so nothing to feel other than the damp, damp heat.
I imagine that this is where god said to relax. To breathe when you can, it is too lush to not do anything else but breathe. Lay down. Sleep. Rest your tired mind. This is where you are vacationing now. The fog is here to protect you. Life on the other side is far, far away and unclear, because you are removed from it. You are placed somewhere just for relaxation.
Day one went by quickly. Outside and day drinking and attempting to read at the pool. Dinner at a restaurant by the beach. Then, we finish a bottle and Marc is fast asleep. How quickly one day event slowed and fogged down can pass us by, the others days too pass in this same haze.
I will finish reading several books. Already finished Truth & Beauty, by Anne Patchett on the plane, a must read on friendships, writing, and living an artistic life. Finishing Eat the Document: A Novel. I read that Dana Spiotta was like a Don Delillo, but with more empathy in the postmodern world. Immediately drawn to this description and enjoyed her style very much. I read two others on the flight back: Department of Speculation an interesting form and read but not too moving, and Notes from No Man's Land a great series of essays on what it means to be anyone, aywhere, identity and whiteness and places and their meaning always in flux.
Next up will be to finish a sales book, we are always selling something, and Book 3 in My Struggle, which I have now began to lose enthusiasm, though the first two were mesmerizing, remarkable in style and feat.
Last day on the island. It’s raining, a slow rhythmic drizzle that comes down almost like a shower does, steady and cleansing. The sky is not dark but a thin grey to white color that gives the facade it will leave us any moment, party ways on its own time, swiftly, without your notice or need.
But for now I am sitting, thinking. Wondering about business and life back home, and then not wondering, knowing it is still there all of it still for us when we return. That this urge to know what is happening, what events for the dewey feeling of day to day transitions will part too on its own time.
My sister probably still sleeping. Most of us made it down to breakfast our bodies tired, so many adventures already that today will be more calm. You can feel it as the rain, a sureness, a steadiness that we are thinned out and relaxing today.
I sit and wonder about my time to share my work. So many projects are partially finished, so many stories needing that last polish and push out into the world. I know that I just need to finish. I just need to finish. New ideas. New stories will always arrive, but an idea must be entertained, it must fully live and be listened to before shipping it away. I see others finishing and want to join them on that side of the world too.
Read commentary on new books coming out about Detroit, accusations of others perhaps taking advantage of the time in the city to tell a story. I dislike these projections, such assumptions that because of one’s background they do not have art to share, that their work is easy, entitled, handed off to them. I know somewhere someone thinks this of me, and makes me feel angry, as if all struggles, all pain is unrecognized, immediately pushed aside and unseen. All anyone wants to feel in this world is seen. I think that is what is wanted most from those making accusations too.
Devisiveness is a decoy from love. It is not what divides us but what unites us that is the subject of art, of storytelling. Every story shared offers a glimpse into a human’s soul, no matter their background, and this is of the most important work: to build empathy and bridges of understanding. Whether it is a story of redemption and prison, violence and crack, home ownership, migration and tensions, or family stories long told here. Those who disregard such bridges shut themselves out before listening, learning, connecting on a human level.
Writing a book, making art does not lead to money and fame, not for the real artist, the real storyteller. It comes from a pain, an urge, a need to share and love and understand. The basic need to be seen and heard. The same need that sparks divisiveness and aggression. It is different ways of reaction.
My way to react now is to listen, to always listen. And when someone opens themselves up to share personal, deep and important matters to them, all they want is to be listened to, too.