One time in Washington, DC, I happened into a museum because it was hot & the museum was air-conditioned. One of the side rooms had letters that Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend. The family had kept them in a trunk somewhere until they’d been forgotten & then someone generations down the line happened to be cleaning out the attic & had found the whole bundle of them. The handwriting was clean & precise & it was easy to imagine him sitting down moments before to send a quick note. Which, in those days, was ten or twelve pages.
Anyway, the only thing I remember was how normal the letters were. Filled with greetings for the family & comments on mutual friends & now & then, a few random thoughts about politics & what are you going to do about it, except maybe start a whole new country from scratch.
It struck me that’s how simple it is: each day living your life until the moment you have an idea like starting a whole new country & you stand up & clap your hands together & say Well, then, I guess it’s time to get to work.
The real trick is to have an idea that’s worth doing with your whole self. Those kind of ideas tend to sneak up on you when you’re quietly writing, or looking at the trees on a summer’s day, because they’re whispering from far away, all the way from the center of your bones. Instead of when you’re busy watching tv, or surfing on the web.
The real problem with the ideas you get when it’s busy & noisy are that your mind might be convinced, but your heart’s not in it & you usually know that right from the very beginning. I think that’s when I decided I didn’t want to be disappointed looking back, seeing all the times I could’ve stopped following somebody else’s idea of a life & turned instead toward an idea that was mine all the way to the center of my bones.
Because I’m not sure there’s a greater disappointment than knowing you never really went in the direction you wanted to go, never knowing what whole new country you could’ve started from scratch by now…
with love, b
4 July 2016