handwritten notes“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters.  You can’t reread a phone call.”  ~Liz Carpenter

I’ve been so busy. No time to stop and capture the moments.  No time to write down my thoughts.  No time to unpack my bags and lay them out before me to see what lies inside.

I’ve been so busy.

The days swirl by in a blur.  They come, they go. Moments pass. I am forgetting them even before I can remember them. I have no time to write them down. I am losing time because I cannot capture my experiences and save them.  Savor them.  Treasure them. Digest them. Absorb them. They are rushing by too fast for me to catch up.

I write to remember. I write to process. I write to experience.

Today, I was reminded why capturing those words are so important. Life is not concretized for me without putting my words down on paper. In pen. In type. In crayon. It doesn’t matter. When it is written, it becomes real.  For me.

♦   ♦   ♦

I was rummaging through a bag today.  One of the many that lay nestled in the corner of my office. Some also hang on the back of the door.  I am a hoarder when it comes to bags.  There are so many purses and satchels and messenger bags and hobos and the array of utilitarian laptop bags. Each hold an assortment of items that are stranded behind only to be recovered months or years later when I return to resurrect an old favorite. Lipsticks and magazines; gum and mints; business cards gone astray; random pieces of paper with scribbled notes; aged receipts faded beyond recognition; boarding passes; and other various treasures that, when located, remind me of things I have left behind and moments that have since left me.

Today, I was pulling out an older backpack to carry my computer on an upcoming business trip. I remembered that there were some cables that I had left in this bag and was anxiously trying to locate them when I noticed another smaller laptop bag lying behind this one. Yet another in my collection. Another old friend with whom I had grown weary and found a replacement. My loyalty to the bags leaves a lot to be desired. I am a fickle friend when it comes to my totes and my husband groans each time a new one finds its way into my home.  There are closets full and, despite my disloyalty, I will never truly part ways. They all hold such dear meaning. They are all a part of my story. The smaller bag that was peeking out from behind the backpack was an old mainstay. We went steady for quite a while.  I bought this one to safely transport my precious MacAir when traveling and it was a road warrior like me. It was always at my side and, while small, contained some treasured possessions. I had retired the bag several months ago when I had to graduate to a big rolling laptop bag for work. I now needed to carry much more technology with me and the bulkier pieces were simply too heavy to heave on my back. The roller was my new catchall. I no longer needed my small black nylon case and, like the others, without unpacking its goods, I placed it on a shelf, knowing that one day I would return to recover it.  As I did today.

I was fishing through this bag now, looking for the missing cables. Alas, they were not there. Instead, I found note pads with scribbles capturing spur of the moment ideas while I waited for a flight or was on a train. I also found some cards from a friend. Two cards, in fact. I had long ago opened them after one was secretly slipped into my bag at the end of a trip and the other was mailed to my home. I carried them with me to remember them. It was comforting to me knowing they were tucked away in my bag because it was as if the words would stream out and permeate my being. The words so carefully crafted within the cards would secrete themselves into my skin, course through my veins and calm me. I didn’t usually pull them out to read them but I liked knowing they were there. They were meaningful.

I was surprised when I realized that I had left them behind and stopped for a moment to try to remember how I forgot about them. How could these notes – filled with love and encouragement, admiration and praise, kindness and warmth – have just drifted away, stranded along with the far-more meaningless leftovers of weeks and months and years of comings and goings.  These were precious gems. How could I have forgotten to remember them?

There was nothing else I could do but read them, devouring the words and letting them do their job. They warmed up my heart which was running cold. They softened my sharp edges, hardened by the lack of time, the rushing, the chaos, the inability to engage and connect. They made me long for a moment in time when I could feel the words and know they were real and salient. I drifted away in my mind, awash with emotions that only words so beautifully crafted and heartfelt can evoke. I was touched.

For me, words are everything. They are colors and shapes and feelings and smells and ideas and magic. They are my happiness, my sadness, my pain, my joy. Words are like photographs so beautifully capturing an experience, memorializing it forevermore. Without my words, I am empty and forgetful and disconnected and lost. With them, I am liberated and expressive and alive and engaged and vibrant.

And the only thing better than my words are someone else’s.

2 thoughts on “FIND YOUR WORDS

  1. Tammy, you are such a kindred spirit. I loved this reflection. I can relate to every bit of it. The bags ( I also save boxes! Different shapes and sizes… I can’t throw them away…never know when I’ll need them… a testament, I think, to how often I have had to move), finding cards from friends that I kept because the words soothed me, nourished me. Thanks for writing about it…it helped me to remember. I wish I was blogging now so I could inspire and encourage you with my reflections–not that there aren’t plenty of others doing so…but I miss being involved. You see… I am in a phase where words have left me. I’m not writing. But I always did. I have boxes filled with journals, too. But a few years back the words stopped flowing. I am patiently waiting. I think they will come back… I just miss them now.

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