Last week, I started a story for my Afterfoam collection, a sequel to Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid”. It started as a character concept for the larp Cottington Woods, a little background story I originally called The Little Runaway , which I now think of as The Sea Witch’s Apprentice. Since then, it has blossomed into other stories like The Bride, The Knife, and now The Breeze, this one told from the Little Mermaid’s perspective as an air spirit:
There is a lot I did not know as a mermaid, child of the sea, and even less that I knew as a human, earthbound. But up here, the view is clearer, probably because there is little to do but think, once the meddling proves pointless or deadly. I am my mind, my memories, and I cling to them. I have no image, no reflection. If I don’t remember, I’ll be lost.
Existence is different without a body taking up all my attention and focus (because what could kill me now but an Oblivion of my own making?) but I wouldn’t call it life. To live, you take up space, alter the world, leave a mark. I have free will but no direct impact; I am more voiceless than ever. I whisper mind to mind and I am told the siren song still purrs beneath my influence, sweetening my call, but I have no sound of my own, not even the thrum of the heartbeat that had always been with me, so familiar I didn’t hear it anymore. Only in its absence could I realize that it was the most beautiful sound in the world.
According to canon, she does not have a soul, she can only earn one. She no longer has a body. She believes she is heart and mind, only.
I’m pretty sure this is me writing to me.
Until recently, I hadn’t been paying much attention to my soul. I need to work on nourishing and appreciating my body. I want to heal and grow in heart and mind, and yet I also need to remember that I am more than just those two aspects.
The way I am using my Heart Mind Body Soul framework recently is to write down each category and place goals underneath. When I got to writing, I was stumped. Is it mind, because of creativity and intelligence and memory and imagination and processing? Is it heart, because I love it, because it reveals myself to me and inspires forgiveness and empathy? Is it soul, because I feel connected to something bigger and more cosmic, something like a muse or a genus or the universe?
And then I realized it was each of them, at once, always, and that thought becomes writing only when I let my body get involved.
Essentially, writing is at the center of my being.
It has been, all this time.
No wonder HMBS feels like purpose.
I found myself writing “write now” directly in the center of my little chart.
I stared at it and experienced epiphany, that beautiful reshaping-
-and then I collapsed into a puddle of grief, as surely as the Little Mermaid did when she tossed her knife into the sea.
I said, “I’m so sorry, Daddy. I get it now. Thank you.”
Because one message that has been in my life since childhood is that my father supported my writing. He did this when I was in 6th grade and he submitted a poem I had written about the impending gulf-war, a scared 11-year old trying to comprehend what exactly that meant. He didn’t even tell me. I didn’t know until a receptionist at my school told me she’d seen it.
Come to think of it, that was the first time I had been published.
My father’s constant refrain to me had been “Write now” (and by the way guys I just figured out my next tattoo)- it appeared like a motto any time he found or manufactured an excuse to say “right now.” I’d know what he meant but he’d repeat it anyway, the verb switch practically written in the air by the mischief in his eyes.
And yet I resisted.
I resisted nearly every day, full-on Rebellion Mode, scattered with little bits of writing and sharing that fed my soul a snack and made me think I wasn’t rebelling at all. But I was, because writing makes me feel, and it makes me sob sometimes, and I didn’t want to go through it.
But today, I sat with this grief because that is what the goddamn Facebook memes told me to do, and because I wrote this note to myself JUST LAST NIGHT-
Dear Self- You feel things instantly so even contemplating feeling a scary feeling means you feel it. So just feel it and move on.
Love, The Self that is tired of feeling shit 10000% more than necessary.
And then when I reread what I had written and 10000% didn’t seem to encompass the uselessness of feeling something unnecessarily at all, and I added an infinity sign above.
So there I was on the kitchen floor dealing instantaneously with crushing waves of sorrow and regret that I refused to hide from, when all of my tools came together for me and offered me strength. I remembered what I read about grief being love with no place to go and I just started talking to my father, like Brad had recently suggested, and I told him I love you and I miss you and thank you and I hear you. I reminded myself that grief allows me this gift- this chance to remember him and there is no reason to resist because it is an honor to have been able to love him so much that I miss him endlessly. And that, with this understanding, with this new belief that I can honor my father best by following his advice, given by his clear view of the words in my heart, I give myself permission to recognize, again, how much I need write, and why.