We just got back from a weekend trip to Bird-in-Hand, PA. where we visited our Amish friends on a blistering day when the sun was on steroids. We sat together at their large and lovely home with wide open windows inviting a breeze that refused to oblige. I just had to ask, once more, as if some part of my brain simply couldn't comprehend the notion. "You have no electricity, right?"
"How do you do that? Especially now?" I was referring to the fact that it was rapidly approaching 100 degrees.
"Battery operated fans," the sweet woman answered. Huge beads of sweat hung at my forehead. She, in her long customary frock and prayer cap appeared cool as a homegrown cucumber.
Okay, I'm spoiled. Way too used to modern conveniences. So I got to thinking, what could I give up, if I had to, even for just a day? Electricity? Nope. My car?
Negative. Makeup, jewelry, hair? Nada to the third power.
There must be something, ONE thing that I could do without, temporarily, for a taste at how it might be to live a simpler life. Right? I decided to shun the computer for the time I was away, even though the hotel had internet access.
It was weird at first. I had to face the cold hard facts at hand. I lead a complicated, twentieth century existence. It's overflowing, spilling out all over the place and at times, impossible to contain. That's why we escape every year or so, to wonder at those folks who clip-clop by in horse drawn buggies with a kind wave. To imagine for a minute, an hour or 48 of them how it might be to shed it all, leave the mayhem behind and be content just the same. The Amish seem united, spiritual, committed, close-knit, a community. Curious. Entertaining. An enigma. Happy.
SO here I am, back in the land of all things electric, the laptop resting on my knees, my inbox jam packed at 91 unread messages. I miss the cornfields, the quiet, the wide open spaces. But I'm comfortable in the air conditioning, hitting delete, delete, delete. Can't have it both ways, I guess.
Friday, July 9, 2010
I often wonder why I choose to write. Then I realize that I haven't chosen it...really. It chose me.
Tonight I am drawn to acknowledge the 50 year anniversary of the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird," written by an old Southern gal named Nellie Harper Lee. This novel was one of the first to throw a light on that dark corner of my soul where my love of reading lay waiting to implode. This phenomenal author debuted this tale after four years of her time and energy, and drew critical acclaim for her amazing story. Sadly she never wrote another.
I often wonder why. Was it the fear she'd never be able to spin another yarn as deeply stirring? Did she even try only to believe it might never come close?
Reading and writing are a package deal. One of the first pieces of advice I ever received from my writing teacher was to "read, read and read some more." No problem. It's what comes natural.
Great authors inspire. They engage. They direct. They lead crowds. They live quiet lives and realize big dreams. They teach new authors how its done.
I often wonder if I'll ever be so fortunate as to have something that I write touch the hearts of so many for so long. One can only wonder...