“Stones in the road? I save every single one, one day I´ll build a castle”
― Fernando Pessoa
I really love this quote and the image it conjures. Our housing units in Germany were situated beside a small town in the shadows of a hill. On top of the hill were ruins of a castle from long before, buried in weeds and grass. I took a field trip there with my day camp one summer. We were typical kids, chanting the lyrics to “Brass Monkey” while we tromped up the hillside beneath the greens of summer. Ruins didn’t seem like much fun for a twelve year old child who had spent four years traveling from castle ruin to castle ruin. That one couldn’t be much different, right?
Yet, it was that one ruin that had an effect on me. Walls that no longer stood more than two or three feet tall. One wall with a skeletal window hole that once overlooked and guarded a medival town. I stood among weeds that scratched my thighs and wondered about the people who once lived there. People long forgotten by the history books. Perhaps a family who played in the court yard as my friends were now doing. I soon wandered away from the group and walked down stairs that led to nowhere while my hands felt along the rough stone remnants warmed by the summer sun.
Before we were rounded up for the long walk back to town, I selected a crumble from the wall and tucked it into my pocket. Looking back, I can’t tell you why I did this, but I held onto that stone all the way back to town, my fingers feeling the crevices and sharp edges. I felt grounded.
Now, as Jaz and I settle into our new lives, I am starting to find a new grounding. We are slowly settling into our apartment, bare of furniture or many convineinces we are accustomed too. The road here was bumpy, but I gathered the stones and will put them away to build my castle down the road. Not one of stones, or mortar, or drywall, but a new castle of words. Who knew that I’d walk away from the experience with so many stories and such a desire to write them. Looking back, the stagnation of my life had stunted my growth as a writer. It took change and loss for me to open my mind and see things different.
So, in my apparently introspective mood, I return to writing. Sometimes with avengence, sometimes with tenderness. Perhaps down the road, I’ll find some humor. Who knows what will happen. But as afraid as I was of change, I’m grateful for my family and friends who realized my need and helped me find my way. I’m still not sure where this is going to lead, but…damn, I’m having fun.
“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn’t a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.”
― Anaïs Nin