Today I smoked a cigarette with Fran Lebowitz at the top of mount Makalu.
What the hell is Fran Lebowitz doing in Nepal? From what I understand she would never leave NYC.
She turned to me and said, “HEY! Where are you from?” I answered, “Brooklyn, New York, by way of Harlem.” She continued in that raspy voice of hers… “Why are WE climbing this damn mountain when we could be sitting across from each other at a booth in the best city of the world. Couldn’t we have had this conversation in TriBeCa?” I laughed in hysterics.
She asked me questions about my life, what I write about and why I write. She wanted to know what inspires me. She asked me if I thought my messages were being received and if I felt valued in this world. We talked about facebook and social media and the many reasons she is against it and doesn’t even own a cell phone, “if people want to speak to me, they have to pick up a phone!” We talked about the ruining and complete dismantling of our communication systems and how people just aren’t connecting to each other. We talked for what seemed like hours. And then she questioned who I am in the world, as she quoted James Baldwin,
“There are days… When you wonder… What your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How precisely are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here? How are you going to communicate to the vast, hedonist, unthinking, cruel, white majority… that you are HERE?”
How will I communicate that I am here?
She told me how completely inspired she was by Baldwin and the manner in which he spoke with such composure, eloquence and class. We talked about racism, poverty, homosexuality, democracy, religion, literature and the state of art today… most specifically, the role of the writer. How writing requires a deep questioning and an ability to write with a tremendous amount of integrity and authenticity. How nothing that we write are new subjects, what is new is the manner in which we come at our art and deliver our messages.
She reminded me that I am being called to do something new … that I am being called to write something new… and that it is very important to begin to NOT care so much about what others are doing or what they are saying or thinking… Sharing with me that you get to an age where you don’t care about these things. That at the very least, in your writing, you will say things that make people uncomfortable, but that’s not our problem.
Good they are uncomfortable… there are things that must be written that are not always pretty, yet my job is to write the story anyway.
I received your email today about telling people the truth and how some people just can’t handle it. I have been thinking a lot about writing truth… writing the truth… Speaking up. Being unafraid to share what’s on our minds. I’m meditating on being unapologetic and the importance of getting what I feel down on the page. And that those things may very well make people really uncomfortable hearing. But I must write it anyway.
There are a few people in our lives who just can’t handle it. They get defensive. They get angry. They wish I would just sweep things under the rug and stop talking about it.
These conversations need to be had. I keep feeling like some people are dying on the inside, incarcerated, slaves to their story, pain and past… never really knowing what freedom looks like. This is why I write… this is why I must write. Thank you for always telling me the truth and for always allowing me to do the same for you. We must let them know that WE are here!
I love you,
PS. Before leaving on her chopper, Fran turned to me and said, “regarding writing, Toni Morrison said once, If there’s a book you really want to read and it hasn’t been written yet, then YOU must write it Alicia! However, Toni did not mean everyone…”
“Fran you are crazy!!!!”
I woke up from that dream laughing in hysterics. Thank you Fran Lebowitz for showing up in my dreams and giving me the greatest gift … the reminder that I am that something new… and that I am called to do something great. THAT I MUST WRITE IT! And so when I get off this mountain I have every intention of getting right back to work.
And so it is. Namaste. Aché
✿✿Note to readers following our journey: Now that we have begun our climb I will not be posting to facebook as often. Please follow my blog at the top of the page. Thank you for your love and well wishes.
With all my love,