The passage that follows is from a book I’m working on right now. I’m not sure the passage works for a Writing Wednesdays post, but what the hell, I like it and my instinct tells me to put it out there.
The passage is part of a section about a twenty-two month period in my late twenties when I lived by myself in a little house in Northern California and did nothing all day but read and write. I’ve alluded to this time in The War of Art and a couple of other books.
I lived on a street called River Road then. There was a real river (not a big one, but one with real water that really flowed) across the street from the house I lived in. Anyway, here’s the passage:
As I write this now, almost two generations have passed. Yet the weeks and months of that time remain vivid to me. Nothing in my life before or since has penetrated me like those two years. In our society we erect altars to love. Songs, movies, even TV commercials tell us love is the answer.
I don’t believe it.
I believe in a different kind of love. I can’t define it except to say that it has nothing to do with the flesh, nor is it particularly personal. The goddess is real. Her stream flows inside you and me like an underground river.
That river is our life, our real life.
During those two years I lived beside that river. Nothing came between me and it. Each morning I entered the river, and I didn’t come out until I was so exhausted I could no longer swim or stand.
No one had told me about this river. No teacher had instructed me on it. No mentor had pointed me in its direction. I had tried before to enter this river, but I could never find the opening. Not like this time. Not like now. Was I producing anything of value? Not yet. That would come, if it ever did, years and decades in the future. But I was in the river and the river was in me.
The price of entrance to the river is work. Work is the toll of admission. The river can’t turn you away as long as you’re willing to pay. Paul would tell me that, and Bart too, and what they said was true. If you’re willing to pay the freight, the river has to let you in. That’s the law.