Come sit with me because I found a cafe that was empty at 5 am one Friday morning! It was called the Morning After and the coffee was ground fresh as you ordered it and served with a smile and little chat that warmed my heart.
My mind has been filled with mathematical equations, work instructions and achieving deadlines it seems all I really want to do is have a good cup of coffee to restore sanity to my life.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity that has left me breathless and gasping for air before I finally crash at day’s end and sleep till the alarm goes off. I must thank my beautiful family for dutifully assuming their roles and carrying out their responsibilities while I was present but hardly around.
I thank Sangbad for writing in my absence and keeping the café vibe alive. His post for last week’s “Come Sit with Me” was brilliant and we may take turns writing this segment.
And I also want to thank the lovely café community for the support and love that continues to make this a special place, the place where we can hang out and just be ourselves and where everyone knows your name!
This week I have hardly had the chance to read other blogs and have left my unattended but I have managed to sit in a few cafes while on my travels and read novels, combining my two loves as the days swirled past me. I devoured books as I was introduced to new writers and I felt my life enriched beyond expectation.
This past few weeks I have read to name a few:
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland – gifted to me by my good friend and blogger here in Malaysia Ally L Mare, I loved it Ally and made notes so hope to write a review of this and the other book The Giver by Lois Lowry one day!! But just a quick word, to encourage you to pick it up, the ending was totally unexpected of a Young Adult novel, it started out dealing with teenage problems but finished saying something really profound to the adult we all need to become.
The Arab of Our Future Parts 1 & 2 by Riad Satouff, my book club reads interesting books and there are interesting people I connect with in this club that brings so much flavour than just being solitary in my choice of reading material. I have never read a graphic novel before this and started with trepidation but happy I persevered, it was an amazing look at the life of an immigrant, told through the eyes of a talented child.
Hemmingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – fact and fiction interwoven set against the Depression Era in Key West with the 1935 Labour Day Hurricane as the event that brought the community together. My love for historical fiction and anything that deals with the war and veterans of the war pulled me into this fascinating story and I finished it during my 3-hour flight. If you have read Ernest Hemmingway, read this, it’s Papa come to life. And I felt like his daughter, and as a writer felt the ache a writer feels for the subjects we write on.
I was introduced to writers I would never have picked up ever, the Australian National Treasure – Tim Winton and his book Breath, a look at taking risks and how far we would go living a reckless life. The Heart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad and his travel through the Congo narrated while on a Thames riverboat is riveting reading.
So where am I going with all this? This week while I have had limited online interaction and missed it so much, the break has enabled me to connect with people in my physical world and be part of real life after hiding for a good many years. And reading books from a time long reinvents me I feel. And I think about what my assignment is, in writing and churning out stories and poetry?
I read this piece a few weeks back and it has stayed in my head, about the assignment we have as writers in dark and trying times equally in good and happy times. I quote the text from Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings a favourite inspirational site that blends science and art.
“This is your assignment created by Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin offer a heartening answer in a collaboration that stands as a mighty manifesto for our time and a testament to the only mechanism by which the creative spirit has ever pulled humanity out of every abyss of its own making.”
Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.
Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)
Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.
This is your assignment.
Wow! Isn’t that amazing to read and let sink in. Then after reading Hemmingway’s Girl I found out about this article he, Ernest Hemmingway wrote, or as I would like to refer to him: Papa as he is affectionately known, and here it is for your reference. http://www.unz.org/Pub/NewMasses-1935sep17-00009
I’ve copied below two passages that show you Hemingway’s anguish over the fate of the war veterans during that time and for some others that touched his life.
“Who sent them down there?
I hope he reads this—and how does he feel?
He will die too, himself, perhaps even without a hurricane warning, but maybe it will be an easy death, that’s the best you get, so that you do not have to hang onto something until you can’t hang on, until your fingers won’t hold on, and it is dark. And the wind makes, a noise like a locomotive passing, with a shriek on top of that, because the wind has a scream exactly as it has in books, and then the fill goes and the high wall of water rolls you over and over and then, whatever it is, you get it and we find you, now of no importance, stinking in the mangroves.
* * * *
You’re dead now, brother, but who left you there in the hurricane months on the Keys, where a thousand men died before you in the hurricane months when they were building the road that’s now washed out?
Who left you there? And what’s the punishment for manslaughter now?”
Read about a time when people were at their lowest, financially, morally and spiritually and then a hurricane hits and your government forgets about you. Forgets about the men and women who sacrificed to defend country in the war, left to die building a road for the economic prosperity of a town inhabited by the rich and famous and beautiful. A road to be built by the scarred, broken, ugly veterans who seemed to have less use than the envisioned road in a society focused on being beautiful and staying strong.
I was moved by his writing; Hemmingway knew how to live life one way only, loud and intense and died the same, but the life he led was honest to what he believed was the right way to live. Yet he never forgot the man on the street, defended the weak and tried to be a good person according to the standards of the people around him. That made him capture the people he lived with and he wrote them into his novels. How often do we do that? And is right to keep people between the pages of our stories?
So what is your assignment? Is there something happening around you that you must write about? Is there something that you read that has moved you to write your own words in response? If there has been, pick up your pen and write or your thoughts will be forgotten with the rush of day and then it becomes a distant memory you will never recapture.
This is your assignment!
I hope the weekend will be especially sweet and filled with memories, if they aren’t yet, go out and make them. I am looking forward to book hunting and more café moments this weekend besides a picnic in a park and holding hands under the stars.
Hope & Light