LEARN

Un bon mot ne prouve rien.


The Story

Every story leads a wake with converging crests pointing to some far-off destination.

When I moved to America in 1989, I was completely adrift. My story had missed the cliff and dove headlong toward the ocean spray. I was entirely lost.

Growing up in a culture as opaque to you as it is to your parents sparks a fierce curiosity. The prevailing lessons of identity fit like square pegs in round holes, and I wondered if there weren't better teachers for an abecedarian. You learn also, in trips and stumbles, that communicating is more than mastering linguistic fluency but also semiotic literacy. To know that words can mean more than their glossarial identities, that phrases are not singly hued but iridescent in the varied light of context, makes all the difference. You clamor hungrily for these lessons that others take for granted.

Art saved me from free-fall. I caught it like a lifeline and followed its threads back to solid ground. What better instruction is there than the very projection of culture? I gave myself to images and notes and words; hoping with each to find clues to the answers I sought. I had lost my place, and this new narrative was enigmatic. I wanted, moreover, needed an exposition. And so I searched for my place by dissecting crafts, absorbing techniques, interrogating intentionality, browsing through the stories of others and tracing their narrative arcs for hints of my own.

But in time, I discovered that no amount of study would mark the paragraph where I could interject, because while my nose lay nestled in the contoured gutter of a novel, new pages were constantly written at a pace exceeding my most cursory skimming. All around were writers and artists, dripping their blotted ink about me, and I spent the days and nights investigating those obsidian bursts and radial needles, hoping one would eventually draw a line to me, but they never did. And soon I came to the realization that while I sought tirelessly for an introduction, I had traded my own pen for a pair of reading glasses, and my story had become echoes of the works that came before. And with that came the epiphany that I could never find my introduction. To be a protagonist in someone else's story, to take your steps in shoes already filled, to discover how you fit in before you've even taken shape, these are just mirages of self-discovery. In reality, the stories of our lives can never be found; they must be told.

So I put the reading glasses away and pressed a nib to paper, and from then on resolved to write a new story; I took the lessons of my pastiches and committed to synthesize something new, something that was my own. And after some time I found, looking back, the efflorescent fork of a new wake, pointing with its diverging flanks to me.