Becca Wilhite Blog

May 4, 2017

Legend

Filed under: metaphors,writing — becca @ 12:20 pm

 

This is the legend of the poet whose pen’s ink ran dry when he attempted to write the truth.

He spent years writing and performing amusing tales and poems and songs, bringing laughter to the lives of people near and far. He kept the tales and poems and songs written in a large leather-covered book, fastened with a strap.

But the tales and poems and songs that lived in his heart were less amusing. There he held the tales of heartbreak, redemption, loss and pain. Sometimes, of an evening, he could sing one of those hidden songs, and the audience who remained to hear would cry hot tears. They would reach out and touch his hands, silently thanking him for understanding the hidden parts of their own hearts.

But when he opened his leather-covered book and attempted to ink the words of those songs inside, his pen’s ink ran dry, leaving no mark but an invisible path in the parchment.

The poet continued to open his mouth and amuse audiences near and far with his tales, and he rejoiced in the laughter that surrounded his performances. But through the joy, an ember of pain burned. The poet wanted, desired, needed to share his other tales, his other poems and songs. And in the crowds of eager, happy listeners, he could see the pain-filled eyes of those who needed to hear the other kind, to read them, to keep them. To reference the true tales and to feel they were not alone.

When the happy crowds wandered away to grin and laugh their way to their beds, the others stepped in from the edges of the circle, closer to the poet. Closer to his laugh-crinkled eyes that now relaxed and shone with another emotion. And now, the poet opened his heart. He poured out tales and poems and songs of the other kind. And his remaining audience nodded their heads, reached out to comfort the strangers among them, grasped hands in solidarity. And after, the poet walked away relieved, the ember of pain still glowing, but surrounded now by peace. And the people, the people nodded and smiled and bowed him on his way, through their tears.

Again and again, he tried to write the deeper tales of his heart. Again and again his pen’s ink ran dry. He scratched the poems into the pages of his book, but no ink flowed from his pen and no marks would rest on the page. He beat his fists against the traitorous pages of his leather-covered book. He snapped his pens into pieces. He flung inkwells until they bled black puddles on the floor.

And then he sat. He sat and gripped his hair in his fingers, pressing the heels of his hands into his aching eyes. He moaned out the words of a heartbreak tale. He sang a song of darkness and redemption. He spoke a poem of loss and pain. With every word, he felt the thump of his heart echo the truth. His heart that held such vast wells of laughter and sadness.

For a time, he sat that way, clutching his hair and feeling his heart send his lifeblood through his body.

The poet picked up an unbroken pen. He opened his leather-covered book to a fresh page. And he scratched out the words that lived in his beating heart. He saw no marks on the page, but he continued to write, the words pouring from his mind and heart through the fragile pen until he saw it. The stain began to flow, a pigment not black but red and rich and alive, beating onto the pages of his book, inking his precious and needful words into the parchment forever. Words that he knew for him must be shared, and for others, must be read.

 

May 3, 2017

More Found, Rather Nonsensical

Filed under: Uncategorized — becca @ 7:09 am

If you’re looking for deeper meaning, look elsewhere. This is a moment in my (former) life – the life when all four of my kids lived in my house and I was better at writing moments down.

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How to vacuum perfect lines in my living room carpet: First you have to move out all the furniture. Not all the furniture, because if you try to move my piano, the front legs will snap off. So leave it. Besides, it’s parallel to the wall, so… straight lines. But move out the bench. Move out the couch. Move out the huge ottoman. Move out the two wood-and-leather chairs. Take them to the front room or to the kitchen or just scoot them into the other half of the living room if you want, and then you can scoot them back when it’s time to do that half.

Now the extras: take Katie’s violin stand and her scads of loose music sheets and shove them in the closet. Pick up Ellie’s piano books (which are always right next to the piano so they’re easy to find) and toss them into her piano bag, which also sits right next to the piano, but rarely with any books inside. Pick up blankets, which we always need in the mornings, because in summer we sleep with the windows open and the living room is so, so cold after all night with open windows. Fold and stack the blankets on the kitchen table if it’s clean and a kitchen chair if the table is foody. Pick up the books from the floor. Matthew’s reading Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” right now, but only in daylight (because it’s a pretty good scare), so it’s sitting on the floor by the big living room window. Move the plants and the three-foot-tall yellow vase into the kitchen.

Now look. You have a nearly-empty living room. Now, starting with the wall the piano’s on, plug in the vacuum cleaner. From the corner where the fireplace wall meets the piano wall, move straight along the wall from north to south, slowly. You’ll see a line forming in the carpet where the vacuum makes all the carpet fibers stand up at attention. When you hit the bookshelf (but don’t hit the bookshelf, really, because it leaves a black mark on the bottom where the vacuum tries to kiss it), turn the vacuum cleaner 180 degrees and move it so the edge matches up with the edge of the line you’ve just created. Then travel along that straight line from south to north until you reach the fireplace wall. Turn 180 degrees again, and shove the vacuum over so you can match up the edge with the previous edge. Repeat until you’ve arrived at the far (west) wall. Step back to take a look at your amazing work and see how nice it looks when all the lines line up.

May 2, 2017

Found

Filed under: emotion,familyness,food,writing — becca @ 10:08 pm

I was looking for a thing in my “writerly things” file. I came across a pile of essays. Here’s one from what must be 8 years ago. There are more. I may unearth another soon.

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When my kids were small, hours were eternal. And there were so many of them in a day. It was impossible to find an activity that could adequately fill one without driving me to lunacy or complete physical exhaustion.

Years passed, full of those ceaseless, relentless hours.

What happened, then? When did the space-time continuum shift? Why is it that now, hours are scarce, precious, and all too short? Time, that monster that used to hover over me, huffing out the moments like hot breath, has disappeared, been replaced by a frantically-ticking clock, spinning seconds into hours, into weeks and years.

These days, it’s my most important work to wrangle that clock into submission and slow down one hour a day. Keep my finger on the second hand so it won’t get out of control and run away with my family’s moments.

A few minutes of that hour happen in the morning, when groggy, bed-head kids and half-primped teens and at least one sweaty, post-work-out parent (the other parent may have abandoned the work out ritual, again) meet at the kitchen table for scripture study. It’s one time in a day that I’m grateful that school is in session. The forced schedule kick-starts our morning motivation. Even through the yawning, the paper-scorching morning breath, and the zoning out, the words get spoken aloud. And we pray together, and I pray in my heart. I pray for the sinking in. I pray for the application. I pray they’ll remember the sweet moments here, not the other kind.

The rest of the wrangled minutes come at the other end of the day. Back around the table, in what have become “our spots,” we gather for dinner. It’s my one consistent offering. We don’t do fancy. We don’t even always do tasty. I’m no Julia Child. I can’t even spell “gourmet” without looking it up. My kids didn’t know meat came on bones until I accidentally introduced them to KFC. Now they think of The Colonel as a kindly uncle who stops by once a year to clog our arteries.

Dinner is simple around here. I don’t mean easy – give me credit, please. I mean unadorned. And while I try to feed these people healthy meals full of green and growing things, that’s not even the most important part for me. The nourishing I aim for is the other kind. These minutes, the ones carved out of every evening, stolen from work schedules and rehearsals and practices and play time, these minutes hold the moments.

At the table, between passing the white salad dressing to that kid and the pink salad dressing to this kid, we hear the stories that make up the missing hours of the days. We hear the giddy stories about the boy who almost said the most charming thing. We hear the angsty stories about the friend who is, if not actively in trouble, heading that way. We hear the hilarious stories that don’t translate to any place but that table. Sorry. You had to be there. We hear the frustrating, the exciting, the proud-making stories. We hear and we tell the stories of the other parts of our lives.

And in sharing the stories, we recapture a few of those spinning moments. Every day, a few minutes at a time.

 

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