When I was ten years old, I believed that I could figure out the answer to any question if I just gave it enough thought.
I said as much to my mother one evening when she came in to say goodnight.
“Go ahead,” I said. “Try something!”
She was quiet for a moment. Then she asked me, “Where does the wind come from?”
During my childhood years when we lived in London, she kept me supplied with a steady stream of thought-provoking books – The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit and A Wrinkle in Time – books to get inside my head and spark my imagination
But no matter how long I thought about it, I couldn’t find in my own mind any understanding for where the wind came from.
Many years later, I had the opportunity to meet Madeleine L’Engle – who wrote A Wrinkle in Time – at her farmhouse in Connecticut when we interviewed her for a documentary we were making on the intersection of creativity and spirituality. Fascinated with the writing process myself, I hung on every word she said.
The stories she read and re-read, she once said in another interview, were usually stories which (in the words of J Alfred Prufrock), ‘dared to disturb the universe‘ – those which asked questions rather than gave answers.
I sat by my mother’s bedside last week, watching her slip in and out of her own wrinkles in time, heartbroken that I was losing her, but grateful for her gift of encouraging me to think and to write.
And fifty years later, I am still wondering where the wind comes from….