A writer’s vignette…

I’m guessing some of you can relate to this…

On her way downstairs to meet her visitors, Sophia sat down suddenly on the final step, her hand dropping off the railing. She wondered as her heart pounded… How hard could this be?

Why should her physical self be so at odds with what she really wanted — when all she wanted was for others to see and appreciate an important part of herself? And she was so close now.

While the small group awaited her presentation in the reading room, drinking punch and murmuring, she felt immobilized, unable to wrench herself up from the step, her mind aswirl.

At last, she gathered her resolve and rose, determined to honor her true self despite her trepidation.

Striding to the front of the room, with a smile more of determination than of ease, then placing her notebook on the lectern, she thanked everyone for coming.

She began by saying she had always wanted to be a writer.

Before she completed her next sentence, someone from the back interrupted:   “A writer? Why would anyone care what you have to say?”

Another voice chimed in:   “Maybe you should do something a little more productive with your time.”

And another:  “You’ve got great ideas, but you never really develop them into anything, and you probably never will.”

At first stunned, and then feeling herself dissolve, she fumbled to close the notebook and quickly strode from the room.

She didn’t slow her pace until she was all the way back upstairs in her bedroom, with the door locked behind her.

Face down on the bed, she swung between despondency and defiance, again and again, her fists clenched tightly.

As her energy finally dissipated, she slowly became aware that her right fist gripped a narrow wooden cylinder that came to a point, and that she was now seated again at her desk — from which she’d never actually left.

She’d just needed to face down that same old crowd in her head that she always has to whenever she sits down to write.

roll top desk

Mirth and melancholy…

The turn of the year compels us to look in two directions at once. We encapsulate the closing year as we reflect on the opening one’s possibilities. Our inherent drive to mark time also carries the urge to compare — between today’s thoughts and those at last year’s turn, and to overlay them with a clarity of progress and pattern.

Last year at this time, i considered life’s vagaries here through a musical motif. This time, i offer another wordsmith’s sentiments, using the music of poetry.

I’m moved by how this simple, early 1900s poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox evokes the melancholy behind the mirth:

THE YEAR

What can be said in New-Year rhymes,

That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,

We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,

We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,

We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,

We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,

And that’s the burden of the year.

The poem’s somber nature overtakes the joy — and that may not be where some readers want to land.

I see it as a contemplation whose grave tone dwells on only one aspect of human experience. Other songs and poems bring out the exuberance and optimism of new beginnings. Let us be looking for those as well.

Heraclitus and social media…

river stones

No man ever steps into the same river twice.

The ancient Greek philosopher this quote is ascribed to added that this is because it’s not the same river, and he is not the same man.

[Alternate post title: “Who said this? Wade wade, don’t tell me.” (Forgive me.)]

Though Heraclitus was referring to change being ever present in the universe, i’ve thought of this truism often in the context of virtual re-connections with past friends.

Social media has facilitated getting in touch with folks i most likely would never have crossed paths with again. Folks i have fond and vivid memories of from years and even decades ago.

For a few in particular, when they randomly came to mind before, i always pictured the OMGs and hugs and tears that would flow if i saw them in person again.

Not that such imaginings moved me to try to make it happen.

While i regretted having lost touch, i had no fresh impulse to start up with them again unprompted.

Once social media made reigniting old connections possible, even likely, i relished thoughts of the OMGs, hugs and tears across cyberspace.   Continue reading

Best Laid Plans…

dance

Is it true that your life is primarily made up of what happens to you?

Or is your life rather more composed of how you respond to the conditions and events you are confronted with?

A few years ago i wrote this song about the interplay between the two.

Though i’ve been meaning to post this for some time, being ready to do so this morning happens to fall on a significant anniversary. Today marks five years to the day since cancer surgery. Five years and counting of “NED” status — no evidence of disease.

(See below for the lyrics.)

Thanks for reading and listening.

Always lookin’ for a reason

A rhythm to go with my rhyme

But every answer brings more questions

They’ve got me steppin’ out of time…

Cuzz my best laid plans

They’re not quite in my hands

The best that i can do is be ready…

My best laid plans

They’re not quite in my hands

The best that i can do is be ready

To make it… a dance

Oh they were good plans in their season

Full of reasons they should come through

But life takes its turn, then you take your step

In that minuet something rings true

Cuzz your best laid plans

They’re not quite in your hands

The best that you can do is be ready…

Your best laid plans

They’re not quite in your hands

The best that you can do is be ready

To make it… a dance

…Step lightly, and make it a dance

Making peace in troubled times…

peace

Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it’s hard to deny that these are troubled times. Thinking about not accepting injustice also brings to mind the pitfalls of ‘fighting fire with fire.’

I recently came across this stirring quote about peacemaking — and was particularly moved by its vision of actively pushing back and yet breaking out of an escalating cycle of retribution:

“Peacemaking does not mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”  (Shane Claiborne)

Yes, the real work is in hashing out *how* to enact such lofty principles — but we can and must let inspiration like this at least get us started.