We all know that something is eternal.
And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names,
and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars
. . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal,
and that something has to do with human beings.
All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that
for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised
how people are always losing hold of it.
There’s something way down deep
that’s eternal about every human being.
~Thornton Wilder, from “Our Town”
Write as if you were dying.
At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients.
That is, after all, the case.
~Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop”
I began to write regularly after September 11, 2001 because more than on any previous day, it became obvious to me I was dying, though more slowly than the thousands who vanished that day in fire and ash, their voices obliterated with their bodies into eternity.
Nearly each day since, while I still have voice and a new dawn to greet, I speak through my fingers to others dying with and around me.
We are, after all, terminal patients — some of us more prepared than others to move on — as if our readiness had anything to do with the timing.
Each day I get a little closer to the eternal, but I write in order to feel a little more ready. Each day I want to detach just a little bit, leaving a trace of my voice behind. Eventually, through unmerited grace, so much of me will be left on the page there won’t be anything or anyone left to do the typing.
There is no time or word to waste.