It came to me years ago, pronounced in a dream like second language vocabulary. It turned over and over in mind, syllables tumbling slowly into place. The setting I cannot recollect, but the locale was foreign. Maybe I sat crossed-legged in a smoky, gold-laced den, rāga' tableau pulsing the air alongside the beckoning drone of a sitar. Maybe not. I do know I got to my feet to receive it: a dream-word hovering opaque, intangible; and a rich voice: your path, it said. Vengarahala.
Did you mean: vinegar hilal? asks Google? Venkatachala? offers Wikipedia. I've not fully investigated the permutations, but of our esteemed body of knowledge I have deduced that damn little supports my unique understanding of the word. I was either bestowed this word or in some way I chose it. Whatever the origin, the passive/active nature of vengarahala finds me pondering its significance today, nearly two decades later.
Life is different, now. And now. In June of 2010 I stopped consuming alcohol, and a month later I graduated with my Goddard MFA: two consecutive steps away from a passive condition into an active one. Since then, the energy I'd been channeling into a manuscript far too small for its weight has found new direction in short stories such as "Sanctum," graciously included in Soul's Road. Stories arising or informed by dreams. And as they come forward, so the road unrolls.* My late father, ragged boy-man, appears on the shoulder of one recent dream road. Scrawled on his board in what must have drained the cartridge of a ballpoint (his last?): any-freakin-place.
So, toward being a better writer, dreaming is a big part of my walk. If I haven't at some point experienced in a dream the emotional current of a story or poem, it won't often have the sea-legs or guts for revision. My characters are my subjects and, as Bob Dylan said of his own, all versions of myself on their own paths, doomed or otherwise.
Something else I've been carrying around a few years: El camino se hace al andar.