answering the darkness with light

paul walkerIt was late Saturday night, and I was dredging up the remains of a day in search of something to fall asleep to. Sometimes a dream can give you the thing you’re searching for in your writing, the thing your waking hours won’t give you. That was my hope, at least.

I had put the lap top away for the evening, having gotten nowhere with the words. Every birth of a great idea had gone stillborn under serious interrogation. Some days are like that.

The day before had been good to me. I had chiseled countless pages down to one. One good page. If you’re a writer, you understand the satisfaction that comes with one good page. The process consumes your day, literally. Inside the hours you experience joy, loss, discovery, frustration, anxiety, confidence, doubt, patience, anger, confusion, love, respect, wonder, fear, inspiration and hope.

Hope is the come hither curse for every writer.

So there I was, staring at the highlights of the greatest game ever played between Auburn and Alabama with the sound down, my bottle of Sam keeping me company. My phone buzzed with a text message.

Did you hear about Paul Walker? 


He died in a car accident about an hour from here

I turned off the TV and called my friend, who’s staying in Anaheim. She’s visiting her daughter and they had just gotten back from a day with the kids at Disneyland when they heard the news. I wanted the details to come from her, from a friend.

“He had just left a charity event . .” She told me.

“How old was he?” I asked.



“Yeah . . I know.”

We tended to the muddled disbelief of another young talent gone much too soon for a couple minutes before I let her go and crawled into bed.

I left the light on, because the dark is a fear I have carried from childhood. I manage it just fine, most of the time. Bad news is what scares me back in time, to that boy and to those fears of the things I do not know.

And there I was on Saturday night, wondering about the things I do not know while trying to focus on the things I do. But it’s hard when you’re dwelling on a life taken well before his time. It’s impossible to believe that such a talent never gets to show us everything he had. It’s numbing to realize that such a good soul never gets to give the world more of it. It’s a theft of the very worst kind, and while these crimes happen every day and far too much, this one seems impossible because we always believe the storybook characters are bulletproof. Until we learn otherwise. Until life lets us know this ain’t the movies.

I thought on the character in my story and his place of birth, and I wondered if I might be able to change it. To Glendale. To the place where Paul Walker was born. Of all the things I can’t control, this one I might. And I thought on this, and I thought on bringing the laptop back to life and seeing how much of the darkness I could chase away. But I stayed put, thinking away the silence into something more. And then I thought on the tagline from Hours- one of Walker’s last films- and it seemed eerily prescient yet important as hell.

Every second counts.


12 thoughts on “answering the darkness with light

  1. Ii was shocked too. There is so much irony in how he died. I have always been very aware of death, even as a child. I plan to escape it for as long as possible.
    Here’s a night light for you-

    • Every generation experiences their share of this kind of loss. Without going back to silent pictures, you think Lombard, Dean and Monroe. Then there was Phoenix and Ledger and now Walker. And it’s all that talent and it’s all those years that go mute now. Forever. Hell of a thing.

  2. Ah, Caymen, you have a tender heart. It’s one of the things I like about you. I’m glad you got one good page before the darkness set in. (And I DO know exactly what you are talking about.)

    Irony abounds. Did you know that, aside from the Fast and Furious films, the other irony in the Paul Walker story is that his friend – a race car driver – was actually the one driving the car that crashed? I pondered that for a good long time.

    And speaking of irony, the post I wrote yesterday is entitled, “Shine a light.” But it is not for tender hearts, so you’d do well not to read it. Look into the light, Mr. Thorn, look into the light. . . .

    • Mary,

      Some days it’s more, some days it’s “Give me the one good page”. I watched an interview with an author- her name escapes me, who talked about writing one page a day. One real page. That idea always stuck with me.

      Paul loved his speed and his friends and his family and his life. His was forty years done well, but not enough, not even close to being enough.

      Yes, my heart has gone tender. I wouldn’t ever want to undertake the journey that brought me to here again. But I’m thankful that I have a chance, and I’m thankful that it means something.

      I happen to think that was an absolutely beautiful tribute to your brother. It’s why I said what I said about you. A beautiful spirit runs through your tribe, and you tell the tales in such a way as to make me think “How the hell could I ever want to do anything but write?”

      Thank you Mary.

  3. Lots of synchronicity, my friend. I updated my personal playlist yesterday on the Words blog. Guess what it’s titled?


    I used an acoustic band number in the list, but I really like Adam’s solo version with just the piano. I don’t think he ever repeats a performance, always changing things up, always breathing new life into old and always shining a light into the darkness and reminding us that there is always hope–“maybe this year will be better than the last…”

    “we are saying thank you and waving
    dark though it is…” to quote Merwin from this week’s poem.

  4. I truly thought it was another internet hoax until I saw it on the news.

    “Every second counts” they truly do. And as one afraid of the dark myself I’ll share a candle with you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s