Beginnings - Editor’s Note

Photo Credit: Facundo Gastiazoro

Beginnings - Editor’s Note

👤Matt J. Simmons 🕔Feb 17, 2018

I’m there. Before. A speck of cosmic dust sandwiched in singularity. A little piece of nothing. You’re there too. We all are. The swirling mess of non-existence. Everything is recycled. Eventually, and before.

It’s boring, but nice too. Like sitting together in the same room, reading quietly. Not actively interacting. I start to say something: “Did you hear that?” You look up from your newspaper, annoyed. And it’s quiet again, for a brief history. And then it happens.

A rushing sound. Heat. Radiation. A beginning. No, the Beginning.

And we’re all swirled together in sweet chaotic cacophony like some cosmic blender is churning us into the gigantic smoothie of life itself and—bing—the universe is born. Caution: contents may be hot for the first hundred thousand years. Enjoy your existence.

Funny how things start.

When do things start? With a scream and some blood? Or with a twinkle in the eye? The first step on a long journey? Or the click of a mouse committing to a visa payment for a flight you can’t afford? One step from the cracked concrete and onto the dirt trail and the beginning is already in the past. Or maybe the start to that story came years before, with a little nugget of an idea that has propelled me into the present ever since. In other words, maybe the moments before the beginning are the beginning. That tiny neural transmission when decision happens.

Getting to that place where intent becomes solidified can be scary. The pants-wetting terror of perching on the precipice. Because the edge of the world is always present, never mind that we live on a sphere. The unknown, the unforeseeable. What happens next. And it’s here on the edge that dwells endless cliché: take the plunge, carpe diem, just give ‘er. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.

I’ve spent plenty of time on the precipice. The cold rush of air at 10,000 feet above sea level, the tap on my shoulder telling me it’s time to jump. The descent into a valley populated primarily by grizzlies and black flies. The release of the brakes. Decaf or regular. And I still don’t know whether it’s the action or the thought that holds the beginning. The mental or the physical.

One thing I do know is when life kicks in for real. It’s at that first shuddering gulp of air. When my youngest son was born last year, he took that first drink of oxygen and let out a yell: I am here. There was no question that he’d begun. Damn, that kid was loud. From that first breath, the little guy was shot from the metaphoric cannon into countless beginnings and innumerable stories—the adventure of simply being alive.

And so it starts.

One beginning that begs to be addressed is the very thing you’re holding in your hands: Northword’s first annual. Because our frenetic lives are fraught with bite-sized clips and sensationalist tragedies, the allure of slowing down and digesting thoughtful, meaningful literary explorations of, well, anything, is just too enticing to ignore. That’s what this is. News comes and goes; issues that are relevant today are distant in just a few months. We will continue to cover current events this year, and our magazine will still hit the newsstands every two months for years to come. But this is something a little different. One year. A theme. The efforts and creativity of writers, poets, photographers, artists, and illustrators. In a nutshell, that is what you’re holding. Keep it. Take your time with it. Read it more than once. Talk about it. Let it inspire you.

And with that, it begins.

— Matt J. Simmons