We used to have a magnet of a fat, purple monster on our fridge when I was growing up. It said, “You are what you eat.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
During a workshop in class a few weeks ago, we were discussing a piece that one woman had submitted. It had all these moments and elements of pure beauty sparkling throughout, and then, unblended chunks of straight academia. This woman, this writer, is one smart cookie. She’s doing her PhD in English and she knows her shit, but when I asked her about why she was tossing in all this extraneous academic stuff when I was already picking up on the theory she was throwing down in the beautiful narrative, she said that it was because she was scared to let it go - that she’s spent so many years on her education and the justification of it, that it’s hard to just trust it and let it live itself out in her story.
Last night, we were sitting at the table discussing writing, and she said she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, and I said that she’ll have to go to school for a long time for that. We started talking about learning to write, specifically, how to print her name and she told me that she could do it. And she did. She spelled her name with her tiny index finger on the wooden table.
We got a purple marker and some paper and sure enough, that kid of mine could write her name. She was as surprised as I was. She had never done it before and had no idea it was sitting in her brain, growing while she slept.
What I am thinking about and what I love realizing is that we are what we eat, and that that is a trustworthy truth. My life, at the moment, is overflowing with goodness. I’ve got goodness pouring out of my ears and eyes and mouth so much some days that that I feel like that kid in American Beauty, stunned by the glory of a floating plastic bag. But all of this comes at the end of four years of holding on by my toenails, of seeing little hope and the most terrifying of futures, and of grasping on to God for dear life, not because I am good, but because there was only nothing else to hold on to. I ate God up. And ate and ate and ate. I was afraid and doubted and cried and swore, but I ate and ate. And like
And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.