From my earliest memory, books have enthralled me—the touch, the smell, the magic, the mystery. I used to roam my childhood home with a stack under my tiny arm searching out a reader into whose lap I would climb and issue the instruction, “Ede-a-book.”
“Ede,” or read, might well have been my first word. Eventually, I figured out how to decipher the letters myself and would get lost in an imaginary world conjured by the vividly descriptive power of the written word. I didn’t, as we say in Ireland, lick it off the ground. At teatime, we—my six siblings, my father and I—have each gotten more than a metaphorical slap on the wrist for smuggling a paperback beneath the table, furtively digesting a line or two along with a mouthful of my mother’s delicious home cooked meal. Books were my companion, inspiration, absorption, but I never dared dream I’d grow up to become a writer. The idea terrified me. While I was content to lose myself in the imaginings of someone else’s mind, I wasn’t about to let anyone inside mine.
Yet, despite my best efforts to avoid the literary path, its luster proved irresistible. After graduating university, I moved to New York and got a job working for a Japanese trading company, which happened to be located a couple blocks from the offices of Condé Nast, the home of Vogue, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. I’d pass by, peer inside, marvel at the glamorous, glossy goddesses who strode confidently through the lobby, and quickly scuttle past. Before long, and against all odds (after all, I was a farm girl from rural Ireland), I somehow found myself in their midst. However, rather than rid me of my crippling fear of writing, it accentuated it. The late Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I endured that agony for many years.
No doubt, this is why I accidentally became a ghost—a doula of other people’s untold stories. I flew across the country to attend a writer’s retreat, armed with a handful of books around which I was tiptoeing and another from which I was decidedly fleeing, and left with a new career, and the realization that the pain of failing to be fully expressed was now greater than my terror of spilling the contents of my head and my heart onto the page.
After a decade and a half in NYC, I uprooted, left everything behind—my family, friends, career, contacts, home, ‘hood, safety, security—and decamped to the southern California coastline to empty myself out, confront the contents of my inner cupboards, and face my fears. The blessings have been manifold, not the least of which is I’ve finally warmed to the idea of writing.
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
—Rev. Safire Rose