The WITS office is housed in a picturesque bungalow in the heart of the Montrose. Upon driving past the Menil Campus several days after the storm, I was dismayed by Ike’s wake of destruction. Although the damage was mainly superficial it was truly humbling to see the evidence of nature’s raw power. Now, nearly two weeks after the storm, the debris is beginning to be removed and things are getting back to normal.
After talking with my colleagues about our various experiences in what seemed to be post apocalyptic Houston, I began to think about the cathartic quality of the act of writing. Most people are estranged from this therapeutic exercise. Writing a grocery list or a work related email rarely provides the opportunity for reflection that comes with writing a poem or writing in a journal. There is also some sense of exploration and definition that comes with writing about life and its joys and frustrations.
The self exploration seems to be an extension of the fact that saying something aloud or recording something on a piece of paper makes the sentiment more real. Writing also has a defining quality. Through the expulsion of thoughts and ideas one can sometimes understand, or see more clearly, what was before an amorphous blob of a concept, or an impossibly complex conflict.
Regardless of how it helps, it is important that for many, it does help. It is also important to convey that no matter how estranged one may be from writing that it is never too late to begin a literary habit. Through writing, a person, any person, can try to find some peace in an otherwise chaotic world.
Ike has made several things clear to me. First, that no one should ever underestimate a hurricane. I was woefully underprepared. Second, that gasoline is a source of community struggle as well as of global struggle. And third, that writing can help make sense of even the most senseless situations.
Posted by Alex Gilbert, Writers in the Schools