From Letters to a Young Poet by Ranier Maria Rilke:
No one can advise you or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse…
How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love…
Here, too, is an essay by Aimee Liu called Keep a Journal, Save a Life: The essence of the journal is truth and honesty. And when the truth is released, it really does have the power to save lives…I write these private entries as I speak thoughts I may never think again, as I tour places I may never visit again, or view art that I may see only once in my lifetime. For the experience. For the memory. For the reflection through words not of any grand gesture or intent, but of one single moment of being.
And then, this, from the same essay: They�re proliferating as I get older. I have several handwritten diaries and dream logs in progress at any given time, plus crates of completed journals that fill my office closet. I have date books that chart memorable phone calls, notebooks for emerging characters and story lines, and boxes of assorted images and ideas scribbled down on loose-leaf. Not to mention this computer diary.
I journal. I make notes. I jot down ideas on napkins and slips of paper and then staple or clip them to other pieces of paper that I know I won’t lose. Ha. I laugh when I write that. Miss Chaos. I have one of those giant sticky boards hanging on the wall to hold other scribblings I can’t bear to misplace. Sometimes I find torn notes in random lonely places—at the bottom of my purse, in my covers, under the mattress, on the floor of the car, in a bag of make-up. I write crazy stuff, man. Incomprehensible, sometimes even to me. But as Aimee Liu says, they’re all moments. Reflections of the past, a hiccup in the brain; caught and captured.
Actually, I suppose that every book you read, every poem, every newspaper article, is like a literary fly caught in amber. That sentence you write on a Tuesday morning after breakfast with a squirrel screaming in the tree by your window, might not be the same sentence you would write ten minutes after the cat scratches your leg, or later than evening when you sit back down at your desk, bloated on potatoes and steak and ice cream. Is it chance, then, when the right words come out? Or does the act of writing, of willing yourself to create, inspire chance, the right moment for the right expression of your heart? Or further yet, does the (un)conscious invitation to create simply open a door to something already there, sleeping; an expression of words and feeling that would arise no matter the time or place, given the right opportunity?
Now I’m babbling. But still, I think that moments matter. They’re all different, though. Unique. Books, plays, poems—think about all those works of genius scattered and perserved throughout the ages—products of moments—moments when they were written, moments of a larger picture; reflections of eras and people. Someone sat down at just the right moment, a creatively perfect conjuction of time and space, and made something that would last. Hit the perfect chord. The Holy Grail.
Oh, well. Whatever. I have faith in moments, no matter what they produce. Good enough to be alive, just to take advantage of them.