Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese is gone. He has left on the journey whose destination is mysterious to those of us still plodding along in our earthly lives. When I heard the news on CBC this morning, I was devastated.
He had fallen silent on Facebook. His last entry was November 26, 2016, when he wrote:
Two men saw a pile of rocks in a field. The first man only saw a pile of rocks and walked away the same. The second man saw a great house in which he could satisfy his dream and walked away altered forever. The first man struggled to get things done and to find purpose. The second man built that house and inspired others to do the same. My goal is to always be that second person, looking beyond what’s presented for the secrets, mysteries and glories it contains.
For me, he was that second person. I’m an avid reader, plowing through one book after another, always in search of those rare writers whose words set my inner tuning fork vibrating. Richard Wagamese was one of them.
This morning, with news of his death making me ache, I scrolled back through his Facebook posts and re-read so many gems.
Life is not about waiting for the magic wand to be waved over you and things change. You’ve got to be the wand yourself.
And on another day, one his regular conversations with Old Woman:
Me: If I go astray and lose my way, does all the good I did disappear?
Old Woman: Never. If the good you do fills peoples’ hearts and spirits that never disappears.
Me: How do I make amends for having fallen then?
Old Woman: Stand up and start doing good again.
Me: Do I fail when I fall?
Old Woman: Only if you don’t stand up again…..
When his inner demons withdrew their claws, Wagamese posted regularly on Facebook. His words were, for me, like a daily meditation. They inspired me, made me want to be a better writer and a better person.
In 2014 he told The Globe and Mail:
People never ask me where I get the inspiration for my work and I really wish they would. The answer is long and complicated but shows my motivation to write and create stories. Simply and briefly put, I get my inspiration from the knowledge that there is someone out there in the world who is just like me – curious and desiring more and more knowledge of the world and her people. I write so that when they pick up one of my books there is an instantaneous connection, like we’re collaborating on the story.
That is my heart’s desire when I sit down at the computer, the impulse that keeps me going.
Richard Wagamese has left behind a legacy of words. He has left marks on our souls. But, oh, how I wish he were still alive.
This is Richard Wagamese’s newest book, one to keep beside your bed and refer to daily.