I went to the 811's of the Dewey Decimal system today, looking for the right words.
I did this because mid-morning, while writing my morning pages (ala Julia Cameron and The Artist's Way) I had a vision of myself walking down a trail in the woods and I was reading out loud from a small hardback book of poetry. The poem I had selected contained all the secret messages I needed today, a day where I want to sleep and eat cake and cozy up in the colour of comfort - grey. But a day also where I feel the enormosity (my made-up word) of all the choices of my life leading up to today. So I wrote in my morning pages:
In this moment, as a writer, I was encouraged by the fact that I am a person that would pay for words. That does find value in written language. That sees their value. Well that is something, I said, to tuck into my bra as a keepsake. Words have worth.
I am a very seasoned Secret Message collector. If they had been there for me in the 811's, I would have found them. I took my time. I made myself a temporary fixture on the ground of the 811's and pulled from one volume and then another. A man shelving books said, "You'll have to pardon me, but this book goes exactly where you are sitting." I half expected he was making it all up. Messing with me to prolong my search. Couldn't he see I was up to something vital? I scooted a few inches on my haunches, gave him room, then returned where I left off. Down one side and up another.
Dickinson. Ginsberg. A book of poems by cats. A book of poems by cats? Silverstein. A Silverstein poet wanna-be. Ew. A book of dirty Silverstein plays. Intriguing. Whitman. A brief exploration of Song of Myself. No. Christian Wiman. No. No? What then?
Nothing. There was nothing. No one said the right words. Not one.
And this was the point.
The centerfold of my current Secret Message Society zine reminds me of an inde band poster. I want to rip out the color copy and pushpin it to my wall, like I used to do in high school with sports posters and motivational quotes. I think I will.
I saw on Instagram a woman with a gym in her living room. Her newest installment? Rings. It made me smile that there are people who don't fill a living room with the standard couches and a big tv. Who, given the box of a living room, make a gym for flipping and twirling and strengthening. But I am tired today (haven't I already lived lifetimes?), and I don't want to nail or saw or heave and ho or walk the high wire. I want a bed and grey pajamas and a push-pinned poster. It's no uneven parallel bars, but it is a small act of rebellion. I don't see many adults with push-pinned posters on their walls, and especially not posters torn from zines in a moment of impassioned certainty. Adults have picture frames and straight edges and time for matching artwork colours to those colours in their bedsheets.
The secret message from the centerfold is important. I knew that when I included it.
There is, on any given day, a different name we are waiting to be called.
Today, I am a poet, writing the words I am searching for. It is no one's burden, but my own, and I am hopeful they will come to me. I will end this post now, so that I might continue writing far more in my morning pages than just three pages of longhand. Writing on and on until the right words show up. Private words. Mysterious words. Words just for me. They will come. I am purchasing them from myself in return for a slice of cake, a cup of coffee, a seat outdoors, an early bedtime, a soft change of clothes. The words are worth it, and when they've all come out I will have given myself the grace that feels like home. Even Big Bird needs a nest to snuggle into. Bless you, Big Bird.