Author's Note: I wrote this after something strangely profound hit me. I had joined a writing community, except there was one post that stood out. A member had died of cancer, I gather, and her brother had posted her goodbye letter to the members of the site as a whole. It was sobering. Over 100 people responded to the initial post. Chaos theory. A butterfly's wings can cause tropical storms on the other side of the planet. No one knows how much of an effect an artist has, ever. Or ever will know. This is a philosophical piece I wrote, reflecting on death, especially the death of a young writer.
To live life with such fury is damn near impossible. To wake up every day, perhaps not with a smile on one's face, but with purpose like a stamp on one's forehead. Purpose? There are those who have none, those who strive to find it, and those who fail to find it. Purpose for a writer is never to be striven for; one already has it, is born with it. To touch the lives of others is a fortunate and saddening side effect of writing.
One never knows how another will understand a single word laced to the next. It is in the understanding of two words slung together, chained in pairs to the next, to weave a net that is cast overboard. What the net catches is hopes, dreams, a muse's thoughts, incoherent images and emotions. One's understanding of such words don't come to light immediately, but after latent thought. Then the tears fall, or the laughter bubbles to the surface. Or both. Memories, like the residual warmth of a sunbeam's seat, cling to the mind. Pain is forgotten after it stops to hurt, but memories last forever. The words of a writer last forever.
Sitting in a drawer somewhere, a manuscript may be gathering dust, but that doesn't make the words any less real. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Does the organic turning of pages and fresh ink swept across them make a sound after years of neglect? Hardly. The words typed within a book have, are, or will have a profound effect on someone's life. A latent thought, a passing phrase, an author's description of light and rain.
Painting with words it isn't. Paintings are static, are mindless in creation (one does not require words or language to create them), and do not require more than a glimpse to consume it. Words in stories are different. They rely on memories and the imagination to come alive with that inestimable spark of wonder. Wonder for the joyous.
We are gathered here today to give this old soul some peace, to say goodbye. But you never say goodbye, truly, to imagination made real. You can hold tight the notes to sing along a familiar and shushing undercurrent of the world. Sing to yourself the notes of a song that goes on and on. It isn't really a death scream, long and winded, but a mournful joy of passing joy. It flirts with death, then flits again to light. For the next person, if ever, sings the same song to a different tune, to a different melody, but the same words with an uplifted heart. For the eulogy for the joyous is never said with sorrow, but with happiness.
The joyous will live forever, walk forever the paths of the minds it touched, and will touch. Even a painting, covered in dust and abandoned in a darkened attic, is beauty hidden away, waiting patiently to be understood and recalled. To be one of the joyous is be an musician of imaginary tunes, each played slightly different for each audience member, a painter that paints in air and manages to lend the shadows darker tones. What would an artwork be without the shadow to make it darker, to bring the white in such crisp contrast?
Within that precious balance, is joy.