What am I reading…

“A Voice In The Wilderness, Conversations with Terry Tempest Williams” Editor Michael Austin.

Terry Tempest Williams is one of my favorite authors and she has written nine books of creative non-fiction. A brilliant mind, author, environmental activist – she writes about the environment, politics, place and eroticism, art and literature. Such an agile mind.

I have every word in print (or so I thought) so I was thrilled when the box from Amazon arrived with this book making it true again (and the last in my collection Ferrick CD’s). I picked it up and started reading, nearly orgasmic her ideas and writing are so provocative and interesting to me. She sets my brain on fire.

It was nearly impossible to put it down and go out and meet friends for dinner but I did. And now I am back – and back to Williams, having now completed a quick tour of blogs. She always inspires so many thoughts on my part.

Here are a few passages on pages I have turned back.

On writing the body…

“The body does not lie. Therefore, if we write out of the body, we are writing out of the truth of our lives. This creates a language that is organic and whole…The body is a realm of the story. And it is in story that we bypass rhetoric and pierce the heart. We feel it first and understand it later. Memory resides in the body. Memorization resides in the mind.”

On what erotic means to her…

“It means ‘in relation’. Erotic is what those deep relations are and can be that engage the whole body – our heart, our mind, our spirit, our flesh. It is that moment of being exquisitely present.

It does not speak well for us as a people that we even have to make the distinction between what is erotic and what is not, because an erotic connection is life-engaging, making love to the world that I think comes very naturally.

Eroticism, being in relation, calls the inner life into play. No longer numb, we feel the magnetic pull of our bodies toward something stronger, more vital than simply ourselves. Arousal becomes a dance with longing. We form a secret partnership with possibility.

On having a playful nature…

“We’re so serious. We’re so ernest. We forget, fear and mistrust our own trickster energy because people don’t have time to listen, to notice when we are playing, when are we provoking. Where are our clowns? Where are the Koshare of our tribes? The exact moment I understood relationships was when I read a letter that said, “All there is to do is play”. Through play we develop relations and see each other whole. Through play tension is released, and joy is found. Humor emerges and that can be very intimate. This takes time. The culture at large views play as something frivolous, something that belongs to children. But that’s how community is created. If we don’t take the time to play together, to eat meals together, to make love together, what holds us together? We drive fast in our cars, we have workloads that are unrealistic and horrendous and self imposed for one reason or another, and we’re not creating community. We’re creating desperate, isolated, fast-paced lives that give us enormous excuse not be be engaged. We are lonely.”

And my favorite quote/passage so far…

“Paradox is life. It’s the same thing as balance. You can’t have one without the other…Tell me what you fear most and then we can talk about what we desire most. Then this “third thing,” which in this case is conversation or understanding, becomes the creative expression of an idea.”

nite, here is my prayer for each of us-

may the moon give you her head to rest on and fill your dreams with stars…
may the sun kiss your eyelids awake, another day, another miracle, your life.



2 Responses to “What am I reading…”

  1. I thought all of this was very interesting, but saying that, I also have to admit that I rarely read non fiction. With the exception of David Sedaris, Anne Lamott and Anna Quindlen…

    I really did think about her statement that if you show her your worst fear, you can talk to her about what you desire most as well. Hit it right on the head.

  2. Hmmm – yes. I’d urge you to make an exception and read some more creative non-fiction. Williams book “An Unspoken Thirst” would be a great one to start with. It is full of stories – she’s a fantastic story teller. Annie Dilliard is also really, really good. Will see if I have something on the laptop by Williams that I can post easily.


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