Where does a river begin?
Rivers are fed by smaller streams, running down from mountains, hills, and high places.
Those streams themselves are the product of aquifers in the fathomless belly of the earth, or rain and snowfall from the skies.
The rain and snowfall are drawn from larger bodies of water, like the oceans, lakes, or seas.
Who are themselves, at least in part, children of the rivers.
In the same way, I cannot identify the genesis of this blog, which comes into existence at a peculiar point in my life.
Its ultimate origin probably most directly owes to the countless friends and acquaintances on Facebook and various listservs over the years who have put up with my extended ramblings. If only I had a dime for every time a friend said, “Will, you should really have a blog,” which I always took as a form of encouragement to reach a wider audience.
But my friends would not have been able to encourage me if I weren’t brave enough to share my thoughts with the world. Ultimately something in me moves me to click “Post” over “Discard.” For that I can point to my family: my father Roger, my sister Liz, and my mother Barbara, may she rest in peace. Writers, all. It’s one thing to read a piece of writing. It’s another thing to grow up watching others struggle with the process of creating one, and to see firsthand what it takes to create a series of words worth another human’s time and attention.
Of course, one must first have thoughts before one can be brave enough to share them. On that count, I must acknowledge that the best, most impactful pieces I’ve ever written – the ones that demonstrated to me that my writing has value and meaning – came from a Source far beyond me.
Sometimes words, phrases, or even whole paragraphs spring in highly-refined form into my mind. I don’t think those come from “I” in the conventional sense of the word. I’m not calculating a position, considering all variables, and crafting elegant constructions.
Rather, one moment “I” am merely playfully pondering an idea, and the next moment, words pour out in either a trickle or a torrent, which makes known when it is exhausted. My best pieces got their start in a similar fashion. In my more fortunate moments, I’m in front of a computer, my phone, or a piece of paper to capture them.
Here we come to the place where I can claim some ownership. More often than not, I’ve shown up to be there when the words arrive. I’ve opened a text document to capture them, even while at work. I’ve sat up in the middle of the night and tapped thoughts out with my clumsy thumbs and stowed them away in a Dropbox or Evernote file.
All told, I’ve collected over a hundred bits of text of varying length, ranging from whole finished posts that, in the moment, I thought the better of sharing, to single paragraphs hinting at something deeper.
I acknowledge that I made the choice to grab these bits of inspiration, when it would have been more convenient to let them swim away. I chose to keep them in a single place, rather than let them digitally drift, as many files do. For the polished pieces, I chose to cultivate them into more-or-less finished forms, like a gardener tending flowers. Sometimes over several days.
Finally, encouraged on by my friends, I chose to look at my database of saved files, and I realized I do have something worthwhile to say, and that these thoughts deserve a home of their own.
Thus the river returns to the sea.
I look forward to sharing this adventure with you.
on an overnight bus near El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina
Tuesday April 5, 2016