Henry Grace

Sometimes I’ll see something, hear something, touch something. I won’t want my experience of that something to end. I’ll remember it later and wish I were still looking at or touching whatever it was that I liked so much. After a while I learned that I don’t have to let things like that drift away from me until, not only can I not see them but, even worse, I forget about them and it’s like they were never there in the first place. I learned that I could sit and think and eventually, if I thought hard enough, I could get back, in my own mental space, to the mental space where I was when I experienced the thing I liked so much. But I can’t stop there, because the thing I’m trying to get back to will eventually go away again. I learned I have to chronicle anything I can remember about the thing: where I saw it, what it was doing, what I was doing, why I liked the thing so much, what it felt like when I experienced the thing.

Writing is pretty amazing because it’s a memory cue. If words are ordered in just in such a way—I’m talking about my reviewing something that I’ve just written, now—they bring me somewhere, in my mind, where I’m not at the moment of reading—back to when I was at that beach, or when I sat with that friend, or when I walked along that road. And I think maybe I believe that if I can set down the right words in the right order, I can bring to other people, in a way, my memories and my feelings.

The world can feel very lonely sometimes. So this trick with writing comes in handy because if I experience something beautiful or sad or infuriating or whatever, it’s difficult to bear that experience alone, or to enjoy it alone. If it’s beautiful, I want to share that beauty. If it’s sad, I want to know I’m not alone and that maybe someone else has had a similar experience or feels what I felt. I write for myself, yes. But I also write because writing has a strange way of relating this closed-off thing, my consciousness, my experience of all the things around me, to the consciousness of others. I believe that’s why we invented language; so we can connect. That’s why I write.

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