I was sifting through some of my older journals and came across a piece that was posted a few years back. It’s funny to me. It’s funny because time overlaps with something relevant from our yesterdays to remind us of what should be important now.
In the book, “A Diary of a Young Girl,” Anne Frank wrote, “Paper is more patient than man.” I agree. She said this because she believed that people are impatient. And let’s face it. She was right. We live in a me first world. But she was just a kid when she wrote this. She was a kid from a different generation in an ugly time and an ugly place. She wrote in her diary because to her, it was easier to be honest on paper. I get that. To her and her diary, Anne Frank used the paper and pen because a blank page has no agenda or anyplace else to go. I get that too.
It’s true. Paper is more patient than man.
This is why I write,.
This is why I come here (to visit with you, my most special friend).
More than the idea of art and more than the idea of being a writer and more than my effort to reach the reader and more than the need to be read or enjoyed, appreciated or published; I come here because you and this blank page is more tolerant and more accepting than anyone else I know.
You love me here. I know you do.
I view a blank page the same way I view the sands on an empty beach, accepting of my footsteps and tolerant of the weight I place upon its spine. This is my world here. I can create and build or destroy. I can reduce the world to rubble and then resurrect it in any way I choose. This is my domain. I can be honest here and not be judged. I can be open without fear.
This here is my Church. This is where I am most comfortable, here with you, because there is no reason to think about rejection and no concern for judgment or worries if I am enough.
I am perfect here (with you).
This is where I can write my own redemption. I can recreate moments of my yesterday, which I hold close to my heart. This is also where I can write my farewell to times I never want to see again. I can navigate my way through anything here (with you).
I come here because the blank page is waiting for me. And as I type, the page is more forgiving than man, woman or child alike.
I am accepted here with you, perfectly and without question
Paper is not just more patient than man; paper is also quiet. If need be, the blank page I write on can either be anonymous or obvious. The choice is up to me. In either case; whether this page stays between us or anyone else, I have the right to decide what happens next.
A spoken word can never be retrieved or taken back; however, a paper can be torn. The words can be erased or go undelivered. More importantly, a word on a page can be rewritten. Sins can be resolved and death can be resurrected here (with you).
In all I have witnessed in this world, at times, there is nothing more irretrievable than a word we wished we could take back. I relive this often. I find myself in the struggle of re-litigating the past, which is impossible to do, but hey, the irrational mind does irrational things.
I come here to sit with you because here, you and I can sit without the need for color or decoration. We can be us without the inconvenience of outside eyes and their outside opinions.
When Anne Frank began her diary, she wrote, “It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary.” She wrote, “Neither I — nor for that matter, anyone else, would be interested in the outpouring of a 13 year-old.” Too bad she never knew she was mistaken.
Back when I first sat down and created my first journal, I thought the very same thing. Who would care what I had to say? It was strange for someone like me to unload on a page. I certainly never thought that I nor anyone else, for that matter, would ever be interested in the confessions or the outpouring thoughts and the narration of my life.
Who would care about the changes in my life?
Who would care about the way I view color or the change of color as seen by me. And when I say color, I don’t mean the color of say, the sunset. No, I mean the angle of my view, which is altered by the shades of my perception.
Who would care what I write?
Who would understand?
Truth is none of that really matters, nor should it.
Not here (with you).
All that matters here is the empty page that accepts me and lets me speak. All that matters here is my love for you and us.
More than the need to rid myself of the thoughts that spin in my head and more than the need to materialize my feelings into words so I can understand them and more than the need to feel relief from my regrets or write a farewell to the yesterdays and the conversations I wish I could take back; I come here to sit and write about me because I find comfort here.
This is my therapy.
It was long ago. I recall. I was alone in a room and scribbled down notes on small scraps of brown paper. I was younger then. But yet, I was older in other ways. I was burdened and broken and I began to write my thoughts to find a little comfort.
I remember the first poem I wrote about loneliness:
“If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts
and if I look, I can see you in my dreams
and on the movie screens
behind the walls of my eyelids.
But I only hope that someday soon—
I will hold you in my arms
This wasn’t for anyone in particular. More to the point, this was about me, wondering if I would ever find a person or a place where I would fit.
I remember the day I decided to take my life back. I decided to put self-harm to the side. I put away all of my personal weapons of self-destruction. I turned on my old computer, which I retrieved from the garbage bins at work because I didn’t have money to buy a computer; and with all humility, with all my heart, I screamed my words on an empty page and left nothing unsaid.
I began with this as my first thought: “My redemption has nothing to do with your response.”
On my first page, written on the first day of my commitment to write on a daily basis, I explained that the definition of humility is honesty and modesty is just the absence of pride. I explained that if I am going to write on a daily basis then let me write like this; let me be humble. Let me be modest. Let me be real. Let me be unafraid. Let me be brave enough that I can write or say anything truthful about me, whether it is good or bad, before anyone else would say it first.
I come here to think and rethink about the steps I’ve taken in my life. In the beginning, I recall an afternoon where I was at my worst. Had it not been for you my special friend, I’m not sure where I would be now. In fact, without you, I’m not sure I would even be here at all.
Paper is more patient than man. A 13 year-old girl wrote this. In the roughest time, this young girl wrote it best. Also, in a murderous time, Anne Frank wrote, “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”
Above all, maybe this is why I come here. I come here because I want to be good. I come here because I want to be the best I can be. I come here because I want to get rid of all the unwanted things I need to let go of. Sometimes, when we speak, we make mistakes or we say something wrong.
People lose patience. They get angry.
But paper doesn’t get angry.
(Neither do you.)
That’s why I come here because no matter what happens and no matter what mistakes I make, no matter what I say out of anger, no matter what I do or how I respond; I know that in spite of everything, deep down, you know me. Deep down, you know that I am really good at heart.
The strange part is you are me.
But sometimes we fail to listen to each other.
And that’s why I write to you . . .
In closing, I’ll add this poem I wrote on the bus last night.
I hope you like it.
“Little kids run in playgrounds
until daylight edges before twilight.
‘Be home before dinner,’ was the only rule.
And ah, the summer
the green grass,
The sound of the summer breeze
as it moves through trees
The chatter of cicada bugs
and the feel
of warm sun on my skin
We were young once
We weren’t afraid to dream then
we weren’t afraid to have hope.
I still dream though
I want to have hope too . . .
There is no instruction manual that tells us how to get through life. There is also no diagram that explains why we think or feel or react the way we do. No, I think understanding things like that happen in time. I wish I could take back so much. But I can’t. And I know that. I wish I could apologize again and shout at the old me before speaking out of turn. But I can’t. And I get that.
All I can do now is come here (with you) and work to be the person I’ve always wanted to become. So help me God.
Guess I’ll just leave this here for you to read later. Who knows, you and me may pick up again one day and realize we were always what we needed to begin with. We just needed to learn that our voice is more important than we think.
Beautiful words eloquently written and spoken from your heart Benny.
I get this, that paper has always been life saver and best friend too. Write on!