Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Thread

What is the story of your life? What's a story of your life? What are the small moments, the accidents, and momentary casualness that redirected life and made it something new?

SD was asking me about Faroe once and I thought back to 2005. I was at Miller Library at Cornerstone and stumbled across poetry by the Shetlandic writer Christine De Luca in the online magazine Words Without Borders. I was probably looking for something romantic to round out a letter to my then-girlfriend who was studying in Spain at the time. It was only fifteen minutes out of life but something in the poetry kept me thinking and the next week I ordered her books from Shetland. They arrived a few weeks after that and probably sat around for a few more waiting to be read.

De Luca mentioned Faroe in the preface to her work. I didn't know what it was and googled it and saw how beautiful it was. Further googling turned up a link to the Faroese Summer Institute. I kept it in the back of my head for another six years before I finally stepped off a plane into the rainy, sheep-strewn mountains of Vágar and boarded a bus for the capital.

Life changed that trip. Life changed after because of it.

I hadn't realized until SD's question -- which was not meant to spur existential reflection -- how everything could so easily have been different. A friend could have started a conversation. I could have found another of a thousand literary journals or read work on the site by a different author. Our lives are not fated. But reader, I read that day, and a slow tension began on a thread that would snap itself taut one day and life turned on a stitch.

I think of Great Expectations and Pip's reflection on meeting Estella one day.
“Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
We have stories to live yet, sneaking up on us -- chains forming from briars and roses, threads twining themselves, while we go about our everyday lives unawares, into the fabric of our being.

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On Being -- Christian Wiman