The words are purposes. The words are maps.

Words-scrabbleLately, I can’t escape Adrienne Rich’s words.

I first read (a part of) “Diving Into The Wreck” in a hostel in Thailand. It was on a quote page before the dedication of a book. I’d have to think hard about which book it was.

But I ripped that page out and kept it.

The lines were either these exactly or a larger portion.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.

Likely, it included a later portion too.

we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

Here’s the whole poem. The book of myths. The diving into a physical wreck and the metaphor of diving into oneself. The guidance of words and the true lack of any real guidance that words, the ingredients of stories, of mythologies, of fictions, really provide.

The words are purposes. They might not be truths. But they were once willed and strung together by a tradition of artists and writers forever. The words are maps. They are plotted lines of which to follow, or not to follow.

Reading the book I’m currently reading, I’m struck by how many words the famous mathematicians used. To describe. To map.

We are the half-destroyed instruments.

We are, of course. We are always in some scale of destroyed and some scale of convalescing and some scale of transcending and some sunshine of our own being internally.

I came to see the damage done and the treasures that prevailed.

I hope I always am finding the treasures. This is the point of life in some way.

The words, though. I keep coming back to these.

Purposes. Maps.