At one point or another in our lives, each of us must choose something to find solace in. Where we find that solace changes depending on the person. Sometimes it’s an activity, sometimes it’s a hobby—all too often it’s a bottle. My grandfather finds solace in his woodworking. My mother in her needlepoint. I really don’t know what my father does, but I’m sure he has something. Myself, it’s this—the writing.
Mind, if you could see me right now, all I’d need to finish the stereotypical-writer look would be the smoldering cigarette. I sit in a nearly dark room, lit mostly by the computer screen. A streetlight shines through an open window along with a faintly chill wind. Melancholy music plays through computer speakers. A tumbler of rum, uncut, sits to my left within easy access. Rain pours outside, and I am lost in the thoughts that run through my head, the drumbeats echoing more on my soul than on the roof just above my head.
Bob Seger wrote one of the greatest songs ever about the life of a touring musician, “Turn the Page.” In it, he writes about “the echoes of the amplifiers ringing in your head.” The same goes for writers and their prose. You can’t ever seem to let that go. Words bounce around your skull like some sort of mouse amped up on both sugar and speed. Those words are your saving grace when you’re seeking that solace.
Sometimes, without them, I don’t know what I’d do to stay sane. It’s saved my marriage, kept me from staying inside that bottle when I crawl in to avoid the outside world, taught me ways to live that are not easily described, and allowed me to communicate with my fellow human beings when the spoken word has failed. It’s no wonder that written communication has survived hurricanes, floods, tragedies of all kinds. That no matter how much we try to ban the written word, to control its influence, it always backfires.
I put this to you. The written word has the ability to transcend you, me, and everyone. To mold us into something greater than the parts of the whole. Each word we write has the opportunity to become more. We recognize that as a species. For those of Faith, we find God in the written word. For those not, we find something else, something just as spiritual.
So what’s this have to do with solace? Think about it and you’ll get it. It’s a way of centering ourselves. There are times when I wonder about the wisdom of this drink at my elbow, but I never once question the wisdom of why I write. Does everything get published? No. But they are always the right words to soothe a troubled soul.
It beats a bottle. I’ve crawled into one of those before. And crawled back out. Not on a regular basis, but sad to say, I’ve experienced it. Tonight’s one of those nights when I want to shut out the world around me. Work. Family. Friends. Television. Everything. Just gone. That’s why I love that I’m a lazy guy. The glass holds a finger’s worth and the bottle’s downstairs. And I won’t go downstairs again until tomorrow morning.
But tonight I’m troubled. I’ll admit it. I’m questioning decisions and reactions, unsure if I’ve chosen the right path in my life. Should I be more than I am? Less? Life gives you only so many bridges. Have I crossed all the right ones? My thoughts are my own, these concerns overwhelming my thought processes for over a week now. And I have no answers. At least none that satisfy.
So instead of trying for answers, I’m looking at a new path. Just acceptance, for tonight at least. To find solace in those things that I love with those people I love. That’s why I’m here, in a dark room before a computer screen when I have books to read, video games to play, movies to watch, with a drink in my hand. Peace.
But now that drink’s gone, finished. And with it, my time here. K’s home and the rain’s stopped. That wind has turned downright cold, and the window needs to be shut. The cigarette never was. “Turn the Page” has transitioned into “Her Strut.” The light turns on, diminishing the computer’s brightness, and a kiss is welcomed. Not too long, but long enough.