Reading and writing myself into existence

The Potter's House / Washington, DC / January 2018

I've never read so much in my life in such a short period of time. (Except maybe that summer in middle school when I read the entire Ramona Quimby series.) I'm always reading multiple books at a time, and with the start of my PhD program, I'm reading books, articles, blogs, essays, and on and on. The books I'm currently reading are: 
- Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
- Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
- Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
- Holly Austin Smith (now Holly Gibbs), Walking Prey

I'm sitting at The Potter's House in Washington, D.C..  It's a social justice oriented bookstore and cafe and I have to hold myself back from buying at least a half dozen other books. On my walk over to the cafe, I also picked up Cormac McCarthy's The Road, from one of those Little Free Libraries. When I was in New York City, I picked up a tote bag that says, "A well-read woman is a dangerous creature", as well as Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe and When Breath Becomes Air. 

I am traveling and without a library right now. I can't wait to get back to the University so I can spare my pocketbook. Last semester, I was overcome with a search that led me to James Baldwin's Notes from a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name. 

My search is for my self.

I am reading to find my self. I am looking for witnesses and mirrors for my experience, for images and hopes for what might be, for trail markers and cairns that will guide me on my journey. 

There is no single book that will do this, so I fervently search for bits and pieces anywhere and everywhere. 

My search also leads me to my writing. I must write myself into existence. I cannot find myself in books. Much of my experience is not yet told. There are similar stories but there will never be a story that matches my own - for each of us, this is true. 

The human condition is one of uniqueness and difference at the same time. I am trying to find the words to bridge my common humanity with my memories and felt sense of alienation. Over time, I have reclaimed my experience of my humanity, but I have not yet shaken my experience of alienation.

How do I get closer and let you come closer? 

For me, I must read with the hope of finding commonality and I must write with the hope of being received. 

I cannot be witnessed if I do not share. 

I must risk the possibility of not being seen, to open up the possibility of being seen. 

At minimum, I will become clearer to my self, and maybe someday, I will be my best witness. 
 

Minh Dang