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How the Light Gets In, Pat Schneider’s latest book, convinces me to take my writing to a deeper level. My intention to confine this activity to a journal devoted to that purpose raised the issue of which journal to choose. Rather than purchase another journal, I took an inventory of my stock on hand. As a writer, I am often given bound journals as gifts. Scanning my journal bookshelf, I came upon a bound journal I purchased in Paris in 1996. Its cover says “Notes.” Used off and on, “Notes” is a mixture of observations and reflections taking up less than a quarter of the notebook. This will be a perfect place, I thought, to begin recording my depth exploration.
Removing the journal from the bookshelf, I paged through it, stopping to read entries at random. One entry, dated January 1, 1997, caught my attention. I wrote the entry while on a flight from Milan to Chicago. What I read took my breath away. The words could have come from Pat Schneider who I only learned of two weeks ago. In 1997, knowing that I wanted and needed to “go deeper,” the entry is like a plea for confirmation of what I already knew. It would take more than sixteen years for the answer to my plea to materialize. That the answer connects me with Pat Schneider’s book takes my breath away once more.
I continued to write by fits and starts making what I thought was progress. There was progress; but, not the progress I expected. Early in my writing career, I understood that writing allows me to touch, to feel, and ultimately, to understand my life. But, I didn’t know what it would take to gain that awareness or what the awareness would look like if I found it. The onion analogy is appropriate to writing just as it is for many endeavors. The peeling away of a layer reveals more and clearer insights.
I thought I knew my purpose in writing. What I learned is that avoiding the path into the dark woods of the mind produces shallow results. I learned that unless I take that journey, I cannot know the whole story. I thought I knew; but, it is not that easy. More and deeper work is required.
For this awareness there is cause for celebration. A new light has come.