Dear Faulkner Readers,
Along my journey, I attended a conference at The Esalen Institute for “Yoga and Creative Writing.” I wanted to sit at the feet of John Robbins and learn from him and yoga instructor, Katchie Ananda. My intention was to grow, learn, evolve… and meet a friend for life.
We sat in a circle as we had different times filled with unique writing exercises. Then, we would share our experiences. We could read our writing exercise or we could have someone else read our writing. We could dance to our writing or we could have someone else dance to our writing. Better yet, sing. I shared some of my writings and allowed others to read some out loud.
It was a time of pure joy and freedom. A sacred time.
Wayne Larocque, another attendee, approached me on break. He ushered, “Jennifer, you have a very powerful voice. You sound like William Faulkner.” Wayne opened up his laptop to share the beauty of William Faulkner’s words. I was in awe. I thought, I don’t sound like that. But again, these were my thoughts. How did I present myself? How did others perceive my writing? What resonated with them? I looked around and saw so much beauty in others. I heard delightful words. I witnessed dancing and sharing. But William Faulkner? He is one of the great writers.
Well, Wayne came into my life in a splendid way – full of encouragement, wisdom, insights, a joyful attitude, and generous heart. And we are still friends today. Sojourners and kindred spirits that met in this lifetime and past lifetimes.
When I got home, I printed William Faulkner’s speech. As I read it again, I sensed the groaning and wrestling of the human heart. I identified with that burning fire. The strong and powerful voice that begs to create something of value, not just fame and fortune. The issue of my heart and soul come into play as Faulkner’s words echo the human spirit. William Faulkner couldn’t have said it any better…”Good writing is always about the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.”
The “human heart” was central to Faulkner’s message and near the heart of all great literature. My heart has been in conflict, wrestling, digging and diving for more depth and understanding. I push forward as I rise to the greatest challenges of the human heart… to be naked and transparent to claim my authenticity – my heart and soul.
On December 10, 1950, William Faulkner’s speech was presented at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm.
“Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand here where I am standing.
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”
Wayne shared, “I am amazed and moved by your story and the kind of depth, determination, growth and love that have driven and keep driving you forward….how deeply you’ve searched your soul, challenged your trauma, and are determined to overcome whatever’s in your way to a bigger, better, healed you. That’s real life in all its flawed perfection.” Thank you Wayne.
Keep wrestling and searching because that is real life in all its flawed perfection! You are worth all the agony and sweat. Your life and your experiences are a magnificent story.
Wrestling, Enduring, & Prevailing,