I’ve been working on my second piece of creative nonfiction for my class, this one about my time in Vietnam. If anything this has been an interesting piece to write. I liken it to finding an old, cracked mirror up in a crowded attic stuck way in the corner covered by a dusty old sheet. Pulling off the sheet the dust flies and for a moment you cough or sneeze but then you get to look at the mirror itself. There are some cracks, the image is a bit distorted as the mirror has been warped by seasons of heat and cold but even with these flaws there is a bit of truth in the image you see. Around the mirror is an old wooden frame, it too has seen better days, the wood is cracked, the veneer peeling away and there is no longer any shine in its appearance. As I take on the challenge of writing about my life, where I have been, what I have seen, it’s like staring into that mirror. The image is slightly distorted, the frame a bit warped and cracked, yet within that image lies the true picture. It takes more than just a little cleaning to get it right, sometimes the mirror needs to be manipulated, turned this way and that to try and clear the image. Like standing in front of a funhouse mirror, as you move your shape is distorted, this way and that, but that shape does not change the essence of who you are.
Hemingway is quoted as saying, and here I paraphrase, that writing is easy, all you have to do is sit down and bleed, well making sense of the distorted image is much like that. Twisting, turning, grabbing the frame and pulling it one way or another, can be and is a painful process. In all of my pulling and tugging there are moments of clarity, where I see the image in front clearly revealing both its attributes and its flaws. Being able to write these stories takes no small amount of courage. It’s not the kind of courage one takes into battle, for that is directed externally, it is instead a courage to dive deep into the realm of self. It’s that courage that I reach for as I journey along this path that I have chosen. The journey into the deepest part of the self, into the world of Jekyll and Hyde, the good and the evil that is in all of us, if we have the courage to face those images.