This morning, as I opened up my blogger account to post a photograph of gluten-free pasta, preparing to write a post, I discovered something: this is my 200th post.
Gluten-free pasta can wait.
200. Two hundred. Eight twenty-fives. Two hundred x one post = 200 posts.
Wow. I’m astonished.
As those of you who have been reading for awhile must know by now, I love doing this. I adore writing — that sliding feeling of my fingers on the keyboard, tapping out a rhythm. But more than that, I love this ineffably beautiful process of telling stories and sharing my world, or at least a little sliver of it. I don’t always know where I am going, but I follow that small, still voice that points, “This way.” At the end of every piece of writing, I find myself somewhere I did not know existed before. And I am at peace.
One of my friends said to me yesterday, “You are so open. You really just don’t hold anything back in those posts.” Yes. That’s true.
She is not the only friend to say this. Sometimes, friends look at me in astonishment after reading a post, and say, “I can’t believe you revealed that.” I don’t know. I actually don’t know how to do it any differently.
You see, after a lifetime of struggles and joy, a terrible car accident, going gluten-free, and‘ many years of meditation, I have learned this: I want to be authentic. We are not here for long. I want to really be here, every minute that I can, for that brief amount of time.
So, here I am.
Writing this — and I had no idea I would be typing about this when I sat down to write; I thought I was going to tell you the story of how I started this site instead— makes me think of one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite writers, Mark Doty. Even though I am not gay, and thus did not have the same coming out experience of which he speaks, I can feel his words along my bones:
“I don’t exactly feel that this openness has been a choice, although of course on some less-than-conscious level it must be. Rather it feels to me as if it’s simply the course my life has taken, beginning in the early eighties with the process of coming out. I felt then a great thirst for directness, an imperative to find language with which to be direct to myself, which is of course the result of having been, like many young gay men, divided from my self, from the authentic character of my desire. I felt I had to hide for years! And the result of that for me, once I began to break through the dissembling, was a thirst for the genuine.”
That’s what I love about writing — a gay man writing about the results of his coming out can speak for me.
And since he spoke so directly to me in that quote, I would like to share this one as well:
“I like poems in which one gets the feeling of meeting a person; it’s one of the reasons I read poetry — for that experience of encountering another sensibility in its context, a mind in its skin, as it were. So I would like my own work to be furnished with the stuff of my life. There is an element of illusion to this, in that the self on the page is always a construction; one can’t put all of oneself on paper; there are always contradictions, divergences, complexities. Thank goodness! Any poem creates an “I”, a character who is its speaker, and on one level this creation is always a performance; one shouldn’t mistake the authenticity of art for the facts of autobiography, necessarily! I am interested in getting at something with the feeling of the lived life on the page, and that often involves rearranging the facts, compressing, heightening—lying, if you will. That said, I don’t really make much up; my imagination’s fired more by trying to limn what is!”
I think of these ideas every day, particularly as I am constructing a book, and working against a big deadline. Am I telling the truth in every sentence? I’m telling my truth. But if sometimes the details are different from how “it actually happened,” then the sentence becomes the way I see it. Every day, I understand my own life more fully by diving into words and trying to come up to the surface with something solid for you to see. Is the self you are reading the real me? Not wholly. But it is my best self, the one I strive to be, and the one I feel like most of the day, these days.
(Of course, I don’t normally write about the times I procrastinate against writing by checking out the Blogging Project Runway blog, because that doesn’t make me sound like a serious writer hard at work. But, I do sometimes. And there you are. I did that revealing thing again.)
One of the greatest joys I experience, every day, is reading the comments on this page, and the letters you send me after reading this site. Every day, I am moved by your kindness, your insights, and the ways you say that I have inspired you. Believe me, please — that means the world to me. Writing is a solitary, difficult act. If I have moved you by telling my story in these two hundred posts, slowly unraveling the life I love through food, then I am deeply honored. That is why I keep going. That is why there will be a book next fall, why there will be post #201 tomorrow.
Thank you for reading, everyone.
And now, I’m going to celebrate by eating some carrots. After all, carrots are gluten-free!