I am ten, away at sleep away camp, my cabin-mates staging a late-night pow wow. My bunkmate complains there’s nobody for her to talk to. Someone points out my presence; she says I don’t speak so it makes no difference.
I am thirteen on my porch, listening to my dad lecture me about loneliness. He tells me when a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, it still falls. I say sound requires matter to travel through. He says that’s irrelevant. Air is everywhere, even places without ears.
I am twenty-one in my dorm room, crying over a breakup. The affection that begs to be expressed runs up against the inside of my skin. I contemplate writing love notes with no expectation for a response, just to get it out of me. The fruit ripens and rots.
I am twenty-three in a cosmetics store, wasting time trying on samples. When I arrive home with no evening plans, I panic and take pictures so my face doesn’t go to waste.
I am twenty-four in a meeting, trying to focus on next year’s marketing plan as a perfect sentence slips through the cracks of my brain. I jot it down when I get back to my desk, but the sequence and lexicon are lost.
The mind of a writer is a forest full of trees. They often fall in front of deaf ears, or toward readers turning blind eyes. Their fruits ripen and rot.
A forest is a self-contained ecosystem. Trees fell before they fell before people. They made sound waves before ears. They had chlorophyll before green.
But changes in air pressure are not sound, and meanings are in the mind of the beholder. Reading creates meanings. Writing creates words. Speaking creates sounds.
I am twenty-four and keep diaries from since I was nine. I don’t read them – I’d be too embarrassed – but it helps to know they’re there. It helps to hoard ideas. But my breath catches when I think of them locked in a desk drawer, a diary coffin.
Writing reminds me of death. An idea stops being dynamic once it’s put to rest on paper, resolved, no longer in flux.
But not writing reminds me of death, or of never being born. Sentences either fester in my brain like seeds underground or rot like fruits that fall and also end up underground. Underground, they birth more plants, which end up underground themselves.
Asking why I write is asking why roots grow branches. Trees fall and make sounds whether I hear them or not. The sounds propagate between me and the trees; the trees and I simply scatter the seeds that don’t wonder why they grow and the sounds that never wonder if anyone hears.