In the back of a closet, in the dark recesses of my memory, a precious manuscript was kept which my father had written in college. He tried to publish it but with a couple of rejections, he let it go dormant. Life crushed him with responsibility before he ever graduated as he married my pregnant mother, and he did not pursue it further.
I picked this book up and read it at a young age. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, no older than fourteen, no younger than ten. This book lives in me, formulated the world I created in Aerda and Alleysiande where I spend most of my writing endeavors.
My father’s book was titled “We Have Always Known There Was an Eden”. It was extraordinary to me, a coming of age tale that in my young mind, rivaled the great stories of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn”.
His title referred to the lost innocence which involved a small violence, not a death, but a response of intense anger and hate that shocked the main character in its heat and pain. This emotion tainted the magic and wonder that had been childhood, innocent of the life’s ills and the grim responsibility and adherence to the rules of society that adulthood thrusts on us all.
I have spent the bulk of my life trying to reclaim Eden, but as something more remarkable than a lost innocence. As I grew, this voice in my head that no amount of therapy, philosophy, knowledge, or pharmaceutical could ever quiet, insisted “It doesn’t have to be this way.” A stress I could never quite allay.
The truth of who I am, the spirit that abides in my broken flesh, has never been able to exist in the confines of reality. It is always too oppressive. Too confining. Unyieldingly limited.
The only release I have is the stories I tell. I believe in Eden, and that we might still walk its glorious gardens even as we take in breath in our lungs and our hearts beat in chests of flesh. That all persons have a great value and are deserving of great love. We are the hands and eyes and ears of God, so much more than what flesh makes of us, great spirits each and every one, with endless possibility that is squashed by a few tyrants, petty and jealous demons, arrogant in their belief that they can control anything at all.
The lost garden of Eden is right there, just out of touch. A damnation that is unbearable but worth enduring if one day we might reach that ultimate nirvana, a world of endless creation and beauty beyond our suppressed imaginations.
My father’s unpublished book birthed a writer in the vein of Don Quixote, an impossible and foolish quest to write the world into a paradise. It’s worth a try, is it not? I suppose at the day of my final judgement, God will let me know.