Markers on the Trees My fingers floated just above the keyboard, ready to prove myself. Waiting with anticipation for brilliance to tumble out of my words. This is how I used to write: looking always to prove my creativity, my way-with-words, the worth of my thoughts. I wrote looking for the most impressive language, clever metaphors, hoping to stumble onto truth no one had yet uncovered—and I would be the one to gift it to the world. These days, writing is much simpler and somehow still just as difficult. Somehow more demanding. I’m not sure what I’m looking for when I write, most times. Now, it mostly feels like trying to remember important things and people and places and times. It feels like walking in circles around honesty and contradiction and then falling into both, tired of resisting. Sometimes I find myself writing only to savor the round-as-apples cheeks of my baby niece. The pressure to prove myself in some way—that I am a deep thinker, some mystical creative being—lurks in the background, watching. Lately, my need to remember what is good and real has begun to outweigh my need to demonstrate the depth of my mind or how original I can be. Originality is not keeping me together. Philosophical takes don’t ground me anymore. It’s the moments with my green-eyed niece. It’s the backyard reunion with friends I’ve known since before I could walk, holding each other’s babies, sitting around a table full of crunchy fruity summer salad and grilled chicken and corn and paper bowls piled high with three kinds of ice cream. Staying up late even though we are all yawning and sleepy because we can’t get enough of each other. This is what I’m trying to remember, when I write. I’m still reaching. Not for brilliance or ingenuity. I no longer sit around, waiting for inspiration to sweep me off my feet. I don’t have time, in a world like ours, to wait for such lofty moments. I need what’s real; the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I reach for the palm-full of herbs that bless my senses. The slurp of a ripe watermelon in July. I’m trying to just sit and rest awhile, inside these words. Here is renewal. I reach for the days I realized I was not alone—when my friend dropped everything she was doing because I wasn’t doing well, drove with me to the grocery store. She filled a cart with everything good for you and wouldn’t let me pay a cent. When I laughed so hard with my mom about something ridiculous I did at the doctor’s office that tears streamed down our faces, and the time my dad and I tried to rewire the house on our own and failed epically, but had the time of our lives. These memories are my trail through the woods, my markers on the trees—reflecting light when I can’t see my own hand in front of me because it’s so dark, reminding me where I’ve been, what is real. Here is my pathway to honesty. Here is hope for this weary imagination.
Miriam Riad is a public school teacher, writer, and former book editor. She has been published in Ekstasis Magazine, Ruminate Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the author of 28 by 29: A Year of Writing, a short collection of essays and poetry.
Great ideas, the urge to write and prove ourselves as some wise seers, but rather express the moments we have enjoyed. I like that. Very innovative way of presenting with the scrolling text.
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