Why I Write
Updated: May 21, 2022
The wind was brisk today, tugging at my shirt sleeves as I walked toward the highway. From inside, looking at the high white clouds over the azure sky, one would never have known. Back at home, I sat down to write and noticed a file I had saved with the name “fragment.” I did not remember what it might be, so I opened it. After a brief scan, I closed it and opened another one with a similar name, forgetting for the moment that I was supposed to be writing a column, that I had a deadline to meet. Two sentences in, I had fallen down the rabbit hole. I was reliving a Saturday morning from a few years ago when the wind had also been stiff, hurrying across the open fields as though it was being chased. Sand was whirling in translucent spirals up and down the road, spinning up as high as the power lines and then diving back down to slap at the tiny little fronds of corn just topping the crusty surface of the fields. Deciding, I guess, that it was too windy to walk, but unable to resist the sunshine, I had filled a backpack with a book, a journal, a bottle of water and a bagel, striking out cross-country for the far corner of the farm where the little creek that feeds the big pond marks the end of cultivated fields and the beginning of woods. I had crossed the pond dam to get there and as I passed the dock – old and rotting and rarely used – the sun glinted off the water and bounced up on the rough gray planks in a pool of light that beckoned me like a siren. I forgot about the creek and stepped out gingerly, landing lightly on each plank to make sure that I didn’t end up in the cloudy brown water, easing out to the end of the dock where I opened up the cushion I’d slung over my arm. Sweet shrub bushes had grown up on both sides of the dock, on one side close enough that it hung over my shoulder like an old-fashioned stole. Spider webs, some so old that the dusty threads had been twisted together like yarn, stretched from post to post, vibrating in the breeze. The surface of the water moved in wide shallow arcs as though a large spatula was spreading icing across the top of a cake. It took a few minutes to settle into the quietness and stillness. I closed my eyes and lifted my face just slightly to absorb the morning sunshine. I slowed my breathing and let my shoulders relax. I concentrated on separating the sounds around me – wind through the trees, wind over the water, dogs barking in the distance, something (a frog, maybe) splashing into the water. I opened my eyes and stared at the reflection of the sun on the water, glowing, shimmering, pulsing with energy. I opened the book, read a few pages. Opened the journal, wrote a few lines. I don’t remember any of this. Not really. I can recount it only because of those few lines. A few lines that I would stumble over years later on another windy day. A few lines offering proof that in a world concentrated on change there is much that stays the same. A few lines that would remind me why I write. I get asked occasionally how, where, and when I write and I can answer those questions fairly easily. How? Generally on the computer, but a good bit of the time with pen and paper. Where? Most of the time at the desk where I practiced law for over 35 years, but sometimes in the big upholstered chair in my bedroom. When? Whenever. Nobody ever asks why. And that, of course, is the most important question. The answer is as simple and as complicated as the answer to the old minstrel show query as to the reason the chicken crossed the road: to get to the other side. I write to get to the other side of the mood, the observation, the question. To the other side of the image that seems to have no place in my thoughts, but which clearly means something. I write to remember the strong March wind and a gallery of spider webs and a rotting dock. I write to save the memories and I write to save the days.