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  • I read about Charlie this morning, and it got me staring out of the window. I was bounding and running with your words, Ray, didn't know how to stop long after the words ended.

    I called Isacco from the next room to listen to you. He's Italian. He doesn't know much English. His Latin gets him through though. He asked me now and again, the meaning of the words he did not get, I filled in the blanks. And so, there were two damp eyes staring out of the same window this morning.

    I've started wincing every time I hear any of you apologizing for writing too long. I know a lot of you have addressed it over the week, but I can see it inadvertently creeping in, at the ends of a lot of writing, and I thought I'd put my plea out. Out loud.
    Please write. Long, short, with jagged edges, just write.
    Break out into a run if you must. Yea sure, edit, rework, toss around clusters of sentences here and there, but do it so you can listen to yourself, not for any audience. Do it so the words breathe for you, so much that you can stand on the side and marvel at its pulse. I love the pace of movement around this place. It's like being on your own and being right in the middle of a listening crowd, all at the same time.

    Writing is quite like having a conversation for me. When I was six, I still remember running into the next room, when I was angry and out of words, scurrying around for bits of paper, jamming the piece against the nearest wall, and scrawling my heart out right there against the wall, hot tears streaming down my cheeks. My family found it amusing, but it seemed to be the only way I knew to clear the steaming fissures in my head.

    When I got to college, my writing changed to charcoal sketches. It was what the time was like I guess. The expression couldn't be contained in a wee piece of paper. I started reaching for big sheets, more space. I could get to see what I'd made only after I'd stepped back. I had a friend I'd call every time I'd finish, an other who played with his own vocabulary of numbers and patterns and wove stories through them. We'd meet at the football field, I'd practically sprint over with my sheet of unwieldy paper, and we'd peer at the coal imprints excitedly, quietly. When he wrote a cipher equation for the NSA, and it got published as a white paper, it felt quite the same. He never knew where it all came from either.

    You don't owe it to anyone to definitely read the story they've written out, right then and there. I guess it's like having a conversation, some people relish the little details, some use wit to get right to the point.. You choose when you want to listen, you respect your own time. For every five quotes talking about regulating your writing into organized blocks, I could give you ten great people from this side, who'd urge you to discover your own forms, your own ebb and flow, your own discipline.

    Last year in the mountains, I lived for a span of ten days in silence with about a hundred other strangers. It was a practice of philosophy, not religion. We could talk to the teachers, but not to each other.
    A few days into the course, we were reminded not to worry if a fellow student, also in silence like you, did not look into your eyes when they walked by. It didn't mean they didn't like you, or that they had something against you. They just wanted to really retreat into themselves, and one needed to respect that. There would be a time for the eyes to meet soon.
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    The photograph up there is from a low lit workshop on a little land formation in the middle of the Dal Lake, in Kashmir. The man's weaving a carpet, based on a set of numbers on a parchment fixed just above his area of focus. Those numbers are derived from the mood board put together by the carpet designer. The mood board above this particular carpet had a picture of a tiger, a wood pecker, lotuses in bloom in water, a weaver bird's nest, a bat in flight and a chameleon. The final design on the carpet had simplified organic forms in a choice of four colours, with perfect silken symmetry on both sides of the spine of the carpet. I was so happy the designer figured out how to write out his mood board so it could be woven in by the weaver. It holds out hope to such thoughts. They still have a chance to live on through this code, however many other carpets are made by machines in the present day.
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