• Lijing Cobb

Why do I write?

For a while now I notice in my daily life that I’m neither here nor there. The other day my kids were talking about my love for plants, and my son marveled: “mom, just how do you keep all these plants alive? There are so many. Why do you love them so much?” As he waited for my answer, my brain searched for something appropriate to say. “They are beautiful to look at, aren’t they?” I start, and then halt. Intellectually I could go on to list many reasons, but in my heart I feel that some things are better left explained.

It is this sense of the mystery. Somehow, in the middle of all the explanations with words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, the feelings made manifest in all sorts of imperfect ways, approaching the truth but never quite getting there, always falling short of the felt sense of beauty. It is there that I stop, eager to go further with the rational mind, to get it all, as the heart pulsates with an energy and power that lets me know without words, this is it. This is all you get. things that you cannot express. Feelings that are made pale and lusterless when put into words. A live thing that I kill in the process of trying to make it known.

I write because… here I go again, trying to rationalize and justify. I’m well trained to make a point and get it across poignantly so that it lands with a resounding effect. Or am I?

I write to get the feelings that swirl across the planes of my existence to cohere. These days I flow in and out of awareness. I know I must do what at what hour. I know I would like to do what when I have a break. Between these two planes of awareness I get lost, and I shuttle in and out. There must be a point. Nothing has a point. I must focus. Drifting is not so bad either. Stare at the flickering candle and let all my thoughts go.

Time is my enemy. I need to get rid of time and live timelessly. Time is my friend, and I cannot get enough of it. When I live in time I’m aware of the passing of it, and my nerves are agitated. When I let go of time and live with the flickering candle light, I’m eternal and in peace. But time comes back after I stop staring at the candle light.

Why do I write? To make sense of what I do every day, of course. Why do I wake up, eat, exercise, clean the house, get kids to places, read, write, work, cook, hang out with family and friends. Why do I expect this and sign up for that. Why do I feel this way and argue that way. Why do I laugh and cry. Why do I ask why.

Will I ever make sense of it all? If so, what’s next? If not, why bother?

Why do I write and not just let it be? Let bygones be bygones. Let ghosts sleep and demons snore.

This feeling. When words pour out like concrete, not into a mold, but into a free space. Can I direct them in a way that shapes what is otherwise intangible? Where do my words want to lead me? What world of possibilities do they want to show me? What lies in me that awaits daylight, to be illumined and made visible?

As I look into my past in a deeper and what I like to think of as more meaningful way, I wish that there are words like mine to look into. A world that existed in the past that is now gone, all the love, hate, frustration, drunkenness, fights, tears, candlelight stories. The puzzle of the past that lead to the puzzle of the present. I wish I could see my parents in their youths, unencumbered by the burdens of adulthood and parenthood. I wish we could have made friends while we were all young and see if there could have been possibilities of friendship. I wish to understand what made them into who they were, the circumstances that forged them into a mold that did not fit their spirit. The tentacles that grabbed onto them when they tried to break free and be who they yearned to be.

I write to seek for these moments of recognition that despite time and distance, life and death, movement and stillness, we are all here for that connection with one another. The God that is in me sees the God that is in you. The light that is in me sees the light that is in you.

These moments are hard to come by and harder to hold onto, but I’m beginning to have that vague sense that my purpose is to make these transient moments more and more lasting, with the hope that one day they become permanent. A permanently recognized connection from spirit to spirit.

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