Saturday, March 5, 2016

Recalibrate

Recently, I attended the reading of a younger friend--his first book. A good crowd, good questions afterward, both readers engaged and funny. The podium, the desk at which they sat, the moderator in an easy chair, the rest of us in rows of folding chairs. My books signed, chat with the friend complete, I left and talked with the friend I'd gone with about my own writing on the car ride home.

How this friend had been right when he'd said the people who keep writing don't rely on inspiration, they just write. Not that I haven't heard other writers say it, not that I haven't said it myself.

I found myself enthusiastic about my own work. I am. Returning from a Philadelphia writing retreat, I am the most confident about approaching said work than I have been in several years.

At the same time, I experienced the displaced sadness one feels as a wedding guest after one has been married for some time--of being a witness to young people just starting out. I felt ridiculous. Then again, this friend is, I think, 33, almost the same age I'd been when Robert became ill (34). We each have/had lives ahead--I spent my thirties swallowed by fear and anxiety, my forties trying to recalibrate my life, and now, yes, now, the fifties, after a few runs at Making Something Happen have been derailed by illnesses and complications of my lovely boy. I know what the friend sacrificed over several years to make the book happen. Even though this sacrifice was condensed into a few years, sacrifice nonetheless.

That I can identify with. Yet how odd the roles we caregivers are compelled to play: one gets used to bolstering the lives of others and it becomes a habit one cannot quite stop. I'd rather be the person in seclusion, writing, writing endlessly and revising, all to make the work the best it can be. Shutting out all the other "supposed to" moments.

When I told him all of this (by text, naturally, in little bytes) to another friend, he wrote back, I don't think things have to close down at all - my cousin is a year older ... She's in the peak of her creativity. And so are you. Your writing us much richer for your years and experiences and losses. 

That word, "losses," again. Perhaps experiences and years are my emphasis. So many narratives to impose upon life, rewrite, revise. It might be better to realize life has no narrative flow, only characters and voices, actions and reactions. Writing memoir has taught me I can choose a dozen different paths through events, make the story almost what I will.

Which makes life, of necessity, malleable and, therefore, if not beautiful, willful and wild.

3 comments:

A said...

I wonder if a difference is that those easily regarded as lucky have no awareness of their losses. That said,
to regard the entirety of the middle of my life as
a loss does hit me, and hard.

Elizabeth said...

I'm right there with you.

Bohemian said...

Indeed, willful and wild... and the Life of a Caregiver can become so extreme that it can be quite the wild ride... a crazy one! But I do think a boring life would be ever so much more uninspiring and well, in a word... BORING, perhaps I'd handle that worse, I'm not even sure? And those of us who feel compelled to Write from the Joy of it indeed don't need Inspiration. Just a blank canvas of the white block in front of us from which to pour out whatever is upon the Heart and Mind to express in our Art Form. I didn't use to Share my Writings much... or Mi Vida Loca, but now that I do I realized it doesn't just Minister to my Soul, but to those Souls who choose to read it and connect to the Story, whatever it might have been. Whether something to rejoice about, weep about, rage about or just the fluff of life that gives us brief respites from Life itself... as Art often does. Write On... {can you only tell I'm an Old Hippie, Winks}... so glad to have read your Story Today and Connect to it here in this Wonderful Community of The Land Of Blog... Dawn... The Bohemian