Thursday, December 9, 2010

In this alone

I had the peaceful thought yesterday of turning this house into a public library and retreat for readers, writers, and artists. A stove, a sink, and on the way to it stacks and shelves of books, little tables with books on them and drawings, commonplace curious sculptures of function and form, a cup, a spoon, a pen, a rug — no way in or out except to be lost. And I had to ask myself if that is not indeed what I am in the process of doing, if I am not simultaneously building and opening my door with each word I write and picture I draw, with the books I bring home into shadows that move and groan as one glad ghost to another.

To love the room one is in so well that it becomes both vessel and voyage — to drift freely from one dream to another, through conversation that outlives its speakers, through storms of language forged in flame and hammered into use against bright anvils — that is how I feel when I am sitting here, and how I feel when I have been away for any length of time, even if only to fetch the mail from our box across the street.

Either nothing is real or everything is. I do not, will not, and cannot set dreams here and reality there as if they were so much firewood. I have neither the power nor the inclination to draw sure lines between fact and fiction, reason and make-believe. This hand of mine that reaches out to you might well pass through your bones into another realm. I accept this not as truth, but as possibility. In this alone there is cause for joy.

There is wisdom in these rooms — not because it is in me or because I have put it here, but because a bit of it is in everything we fashion and everything we know, and because wisdom is so willing to give us a second chance.

When the house is alone, it dreams. I know, because it has told me so.

“In this alone” is my newest Notebook entry. Old notes are archived here.

12.9.2010 #2
12.9.2010 #1 (first publication)


Aleksandra said...

One thing is sure,in this house you are never alone.Keep dreaming pretty please? And there is so much more to say about you and your room William but I will leave that to your other friends who are able to eloquently express them self's in written word.Thank you again for the "fuel"to keep me going in this frozen world!

Woman in a Window said...


i hum this in the closet of your backroom. i imagine it has a short door, this closet, on the low side of your home. you thought i was a mouse. i thought i was a person. we were both right. both wrong.


William Michaelian said...

Thank you, dear Aleksandra. There is abundant eloquence in your beautiful response. And friendship, too, which goes a long, long way.

Erin: I found the door. It wasn’t there before.

Anthony Duce said...

A very insightful way to express love for you house, your library. I like the vessel and voyage analogy, a place to dream… A good place to be.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Anthony. It’s funny, isn’t it — you with your love of vessels painting books, and me with my love of books likening the house to a boat. But of course our pleasure isn’t limited to these things; we might be surprised at what else we have in common.

Paul L. Martin said...

For those of us who love books, we are never alone. We travel with the sages as our companions, our secret-sharers, as Conrad called them. Even as I sit and write this brief comment, your books, William, are on my shelf just a step away. I can pull one down and enter into a discussion with you in the reading of a poem, short essay, or a chapter from "A Listening Thing." Believe me, it is a comfort.

William Michaelian said...

Paul, it’s that kind of alert, reverent approach that gives books their life and longevity. Reading gives writing wings. And books do, as physical objects, have lives of their own. They outlive upheavals and fads, genocides and wars. They might not hold the place of importance they once did, but people who don’t read them are still affected by them, and when they are in their presence they instinctively recognize their importance. And yet the predictions are dire; every day, we hear that we are rapidly becoming a bookless culture. Maybe we are. On the other hand, history doesn’t follow a straight line. Something might happen that makes books more important and valuable than ever.

Momo Luna said...

What a wonderful peaceful thought that is William. And yes i've wandered in your home quite a lot, always wondering what's behind the next door.
When your house is alone it dreams, and ihave catch some sparks from it also.

Sweet greetz!

William Michaelian said...

The sparks don’t surprise me, because this place does have its moods....