When the World Closes in, I Look to the Words

When the World Closes in, I Look to the Words

Posted by Laura Vasilion 


Sometimes, it is too much. I can get easily drawn into tragedies around the world, natural and manmade. The politics. The injustices.

There is only one way I can remove myself from all that is spiraling out of control around me. Get back on track with my writing.

I look to the words. The words of others.

It is in that act that I find solace. Purpose. Strength. A community of people who are also following a quest to put down their thoughts and better understand their reasons for being here.

For example, on my other ChicagoNow blog, Talking to the World, I wrote about the need to find healing on the 16th anniversary of 9/11. A writer friend commented on the post, reminding me just how chillingly powerful and prophetic the words of others can be during such events. She said, "I was teaching The Handmaid's Tale to grade 12 students, and we were exactly at the scene wherein Congress was entered with machine guns and the American gov't was overtaken by the Gileadians. It was a staggering coincidence." 

By another odd coincidence, I found myself listening to the words to "Landslide," by Fleetwood Mac yesterday. And the tears started to come. The words of this beautiful song have nothing to do with 9/11, but there is such emotion in that song. Talk of children growing older. Of time passing us all. And it seemed right that I should be listening to it. Reminding myself that nearly 3,000 Americans were robbed of that passage in 2001.

This weekend, my book group met. The selection was "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway. I have always been a fan of his but had never read this book before. The book was written about WWI. A very long time before 9/11. And yet his story about trying to escape war, find love, and secure a safe place in the world to be loved, was on my mind on the 16th anniversary of 9/11. Words as relevant then as they are now.

Author Neil Gaiman's words always inspire me. Remind me, that I need art and music and good writing in my life. Or, as he calls it, good art. Whenever I listen to this commencement speech of his, I am sure to get back on track.

There are many distractions today. Excuses not to do the hard things. The unnecessary things. No one is telling me to keep writing. That the world misses my voice.

But if I pull myself away from the noise and chaos. If I listen to the right words, I know I need to be heard.

Make good art.

We all do.


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