Mark-Making 

When I was a girl, I was fascinated by my hands. I was fascinated by what they could do, and the whorls, loops and ridges at the end of my caramel brown hands were the most intriguing. I would study how they left marks on everything they touched if I looked hard enough. I would be astounded how my fingerprints would just lay on top of whatever I touched. My fingerprints wouldn’t change the object I touched. My fingerprint didn’t change even though I had touched something. This physical, independent co-existence was fascinating.

I suppose this is just how I feel about writing, and recording my pathway through this life. There’s a lasting rhythm to this linguistic foreplay. There’s a way your work your text, find your flow, not questioning where the end is but focus on where you are. Even in that, the end is always the beginning.  Even the Bible says better is the end of a thing than the beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

The only thing more remarkable than fingerprints are words.  Without a doubt, the phrase which refuels me and steadies is from my mother:

“Don’t die with your dream in you.”

-Bessie Bush

I forget when she told me this, I had to have been in high school, on the cusp of being in a science major or a writer. These words came when I didn’t think that I could no anything else right or sufficient or independent of other people’s opinions. This quote became a bedrock of my adult self–when I wanted to quit, didn’t think that I would measure up or just feeling regular ol’ less than.

 

In these seven words my mother spoke over me, she thought she may have just been encouraging her slightly-emo daughter, giving her a reminder of her light and brilliance. However, twenty years have passed now.

What she declared over me, to me, was not just promise–it  was prophecy.

I can’t die without doing all I’m supposed to do. I can’t be average because I was never meant to be average. I’m destined for all I set my mind, and these hands–these same hands that wrote in dust on my grandmother’s buffet, commanded Barbie dolls to dance, now master 26 letters of the only alphabet I have known fluently.

Don’t die with your dream in you.

Don’t die with your dream in you.

In you.

In. YOU.

The same thing my mother declared over me, I declare over you.

This quote, coupled with my personal faith, have been mainstays in my almost forty years of life. Sometimes the best life-preservers aren’t through over the side or helms of ships, but spoken or read.

I know life is heavy, but don’t give up.

(Don’t you dare.)

 

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