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Feb 08

I Came for the Mystery

IMG_2613Life is this changing thing that can’t be grasped too hard. I fall down, not like a leave. I fall down like a weight. There’s one loud thump and I’m back in the past like a good memoir writer returning to the page every day.

People make fun of trigger warnings or maybe they think anything with a trigger warning would lead to a bad day so don’t read that. The sun shines so brightly right now and I think I should go take a walk. But I know my soul is trapped on the page today.

I picture a red leaf fluttering down to the ground in an overcast October day. That’s the kind of falling I want to do. I want to face the sun outside my window and leisurely cascade down to a soft, soft ground covered in deeply hued fall leaves.

Instead I read a story on Facebook about a boy that almost killed himself but was saved by the kindness of a stranger who became a best friend. Whoosh. I’m down the rabbit hole. I’m there receiving my acceptance letter to college and I’m calling my friend and telling her it must be a lie. I’m crying and fragile and fighting my way out of clinical depression. That, my friends, is what trigger warnings are about. (Even as I see my friend who drove across town to tell me I am a yes for her, always.)

One of my brothers would say I need to stop reading the internet unless it’s a funny video on You Tube. He’s not wrong, but I’m also here for the mystery. Why when four children grow up together in one household do all four turn out different? The mystery of genetics, the simplicity of one who chooses the funny YouTube video over the sentimental stories lining the internet.

What did you come for? That’s one of my favorite questions. I came to understand myself. To unravel the mystery of a girl who didn’t believe she was smart enough to get into that private liberal arts college. The girl who went there anyway and found herself surrounded by so many people just like herself. I talk in the third person but I came for her, the teenage girl who didn’t want to get out of bed.

I came for the child who is perplexed by this world. Whose skin is too thin, or so the world says. I want to be a light for the dark, a reason for someone to get out of bed.

Needless to say, this urge to help gets me in trouble. I’m nobody’s savior, except my own. But these words I fashion for you, it’s what I do. My poem is always for the kid with the onion paper skin who sees things no one else can see. The kid like me who is astonished when someone says, “Oh, Nancy, all humor is at someone’s expense.”

My heart is your heart that breaks on the floor in response to the world’s meanness and madness.

What I came for is this. To show you the magic of words. How your heart can feel like a weight that falls to the gym floor that makes the loudest sound. How you can pick up that heart with typing fingers, create a scene out of your misery. Turn it all on its head. Give some beauty to the tragedy. Some days these words are joyful. Last week I stood in front of a class room and taught children about poetry. I pulled Nutella out of my brain and put it on the page and heard them all laugh in reply. This blog may not be a funny You Tube video, but it’s enough to get me unstuck. What did you come for? I came for the mystery I unlock in myself. I place it on the page, no matter what.

6 comments

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  1. gretchen

    I came for the free samples!

    1. Nancy Schatz Alton

      Ah, yes, wise friend! You have found my 2nd reason for existence: free samples and the snacks at meetings! No snacks, I am leaving!

  2. Linda

    I came out to see what’s possible that I didn’t know was possible. I recently learned that inertia is one of the main underminers of motivation…I think I must have no pull in this direction.

    I can see where my desire for change and your desire to understand-examine-unfold draw us together.

    1. Nancy Schatz Alton

      Just saw your comment. yes, we do make sense as friends. I wish I moved toward action the way you do, but I sit here and examine mostly. And pop it into words….

  3. Betle Tb

    I came for the Music, u came for the awesome mystery

    1. Nancy Schatz Alton

      Thanks for commenting! Music is a lovely, lovely thing!

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