I visit Tyson every chance I get. I am humbled in the presence of my elders, especially this man who has seen and experience so much of the world. Who has gained insight, knowledge and wisdom into which I have yet to grow. He redefines so much of what I thought I knew. Whenever I visit, I leave with far more than I had when I knocked on his door.
“Don’t you ever get tired of listening to an old man,” he asked. A deep chuckle rises from within reminds me of the isolated world in which he lives. He once told me that he is tired of the people in the world, there’s too much destruction and ugliness and evil. I am certain that my visits are as welcoming as the chocolate treats I bring him.
“No. I don’t see you enough,” I said and tip-toed to kiss him of the cheek. He seldom smiles but when he does, it envelops his face.
I watched him paint in silence and witnessed a red rose-bud burst into life. Tyson shows me new ways of seeing things, and analyzing situations. He takes me into his time and space of love, heart-break, healing and evolving.
“Where are you now in coming to terms with things?” he broke the silence.
It’s a question I ask myself often. Where are you in your healing, Kitten? What have you learned about life? About yourself?
“In every great literature, for a hero to truly come into his or her self, they must go to the underworld and be resurrected,” I said. “I feel as if I died, so that I may live,”
“Explain,” he said.
“In the past few years, I have been forced into submission. I have watched long held beliefs of peace and justice shatter leaving me distrustful of the system I thought that I could go for help. I have had to loosen my hold on all the things and people with whom I did not think that I could spend a day without. I surrendered all that I am like a man whose life death has come to collect. I walked alone into the unknown not knowing if I would ever see light again. I have spent days stumbling in darkness and stupor. And one day I opened my eyes and I could see again and I am no longer broken beyond repair. It took going through all of that to realize that I am not weak and useless. I went to the underworld and I came back, empowered,” I said.
He stared at me for the longest time. The paint brush held in mid-air. “So you’re beginning to understand?” he asked.
“I don’t know that I understand. But the questions that I ask myself have changed,” I said. “I no longer ask why or how the ‘events’ of the last few years could have happened to me. I am not special. Far worst things happen to people every day.
Instead I ask, what is the lesson? And what I am to do with all that I have learned? What is my purpose? When I step out of the pages and look at my life from a distance -- far enough away that emotions are not clouding my thoughts -- anger does not have me by the throat, and revenge is not coursing like fire through my veins, my questions come from a logical place,”
He was smiling.
I stared at him. “You are a story-teller,” he said.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Most writers believe that they go in search of stories to write. I believe that the story finds the story-teller,”
We were silent for a while after that as I tossed around what he said in my mind. Sometimes it takes me a while to get what he is telling me.
Occasionally he tosses a glace over his shoulder at me. I watched him. He comes alive with every brush stroke. The view outside his window is magnificent, evergreen, weeping willows, and a giant oak tree graced the landscape. He is happy and at peace with the trees as his companions, the animals his friends. The silence allows him to listen to his heart. He bought the property in his youth. He said he knew even then that it would be his final home. That this is where he would grow old and die.
Where do I belong? I wondered. Will I one day walk out of the world and into the forest? Build a small house by the water and write the stories that find me? Will I come alive with every word looking into the world I dreamed, happy and at peace?
Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind. ~Catherine Drinker Bowen, Atlantic, December 1957