Synge was born in a village just south of Dublin, Ireland. Early in his career he moved to Paris, writing literary criticism for magazines and newspapers. In 1986, when he was only 25 years old, he met the poet William Butler Yeats. Yeats told him that instead of trying to work his way into literary circles in Paris, he should go to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland and write about the Irish-speaking peasants who lived there.
Yeats said, “Live there as if you were one of the people themselves. Express a life that has never found expression.”
When I heard this story 5 years ago, the advice “express a life that has never found expression” resonated for me. It’s a mission I can connect with, giving a voice to those who have no voice. But there’s something else about this story: What Yeats essentially does is send him back home, because, after all, who better to tell the story than someone who already speaks the language?
We all have stories we need to go home to.