When I started this blog several years ago, among my aims was to get some practice with writing essays.
I’ve posted fewer of them in the past year for two main reasons – at nearly opposing ends of the sad/happy spectrum: a life-threatening accident of a close family member, and later being able to return to working on a book manuscript.
Now that positive milestones have been reached with both (a full recovery and a completed first draft), it seems like a good time to ask – as Emerson is said to have posed when greeting friends – “What has become clear to you since we last met?”
Thinking about how I would answer this reminded me of an essay I posted all the way back in 2015, taking off on the maxim, “Write what you know.” Turns out seven years is a nice round time period for taking a look at what has crystallized in the interim. Herewith, a few fresh observations…
…You have to go there to get there. Some writers write under almost any conditions. Others find they can only write when circumstances allow. In my case, “survival journaling” keeps me going when I can’t get to other writing. And when there finally is an opening in the mindspace for more, I usually can’t know the emotions and insights I’m about to mine until well after I get started. A rich sample topic follows…
…Ghosting may not mean what you think it means. Ghosting used to refer to deliberately ending a relationship by no longer responding to messages. It’s been broadened to apply to any unexplained dropping of contact. Depending on the role in your life of the ghoster, a wide range of emotions attends the common human experience as the ghostee. My point is that since I don’t get to know the “why,” I’m better off not filling in the blank with negative assumptions. This is useful as well for other things which may not work out, because…
…You can’t fully acknowledge your desperate desire for something without opening yourself up to the potential pain of not getting it. Not much elaboration needed, except to add that when it isn’t working out, you don’t always know if you’re at the end of it – or just in a waiting period. And while you’re in the dark about it, for who knows how long the moonlit night, it’s good to know you’re safe there because…
I could hardly believe, after all these years, that we were back in touch. Yet there it was, that cherished name from years past, on the glowing monitor before me. Jon and I had become friends lifetimes earlier. Nothing in particular had changed – other than the circumstances under which we had met. After a brief and bright few years at the same college, our association didn’t survive the normal relocations for other schools and jobs.
An observation of his back then was that friendship is largely a function of time and place. I bristled at the sentiment at the time, still of the mind that a true connection will outlast them. Occasionally it does, but far more commonly, even deeply resonant attachments dissipate when conditions shift. Long experience has me now agreeing with my old friend.
Look there, I called him “my old friend.” That remains true regardless of whether we’d have reconnected. Now that we have, it’s even sweeter to think of him that way. As for his assertion about friendship, as I’ve come to echo it I’m all the more thankful for the exceptions. It’s become clear too that it’s hard to tell at the outset; I’ve been mistaken more than once in speculating which ones will last and which might fade away.
I haven’t been one to publish posts related to Halloween, and this year was obviously no exception.
Now that we’re a few days into November though, it occurs to me that an allegory I wrote some months ago might mesh well with such themes. I wrote it as part of working through an old trauma whose effects unexpectedly rearose. The tale follows a common mythical style complete with building suspense and an abrupt resolution.
As with past allegories I’ve written, some symbolic elements are deliberate, others unintentional — discovered only later to my startlement. Still others remain mysterious even to me. The darker tone reflects what it can be like to confront past harmful experiences we thought we had resolved or had convinced ourselves we’d successfully got beyond.
Even though I’m leaving the deeply impacting real-life scenario unrecounted, I hope its allegorical expression offers readers a relatable and satisfying encounter.
Once there was a curious young woman.
She thirsted for knowledge, and she was open-hearted toward others.
“I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.”
The public library in my hometown was among my favorite buildings to visit as a little girl. Leading up to its grand entryway were smooth steps from either sidewalk direction; I can still hear the soft tss-tss-tss of my little soles landing and sliding a smidge at each rise. The opposing sets of stairs met at a platform facing the enormous doors, and the imposing limestone edifice welcomed me into its world of literary delights like a stern grandfather with a playful heart.
When I was in my teens, it was razed in favor of a new structure a few blocks away. But the destroyers left standing the great limestone facade which still adorns that block forty-plus years since, now surrounded by rejuvenated green space.
An old friend once opined that leaving the fragment behind seemed silly to him. I could not see it more differently. To me, it is a brilliant gesture of admiration for an architectural exemplar of that era, as well as a connection to childhood. The sun is always shining in my memories of those library visits, and a glimpse of the gray face still warms the little girl in me.
That thinker doesn’t look very comfortable. Leaning back in a rocker — now that’s my preferred contemplation pose, knitting needles clacking or netbook keys tapping.
Thinking about thinking, writing about writing, posing quandaries, positing solutions. That’s some of what i had in mind when i conceived of this site years ago, in particular with the Ruminations tab. To me the term has always had an agreeable association with “a reflective thinker characterized by quiet contemplation” [Free Dictionary].
For obvious linguistic reasons, i recently wondered if there could be a relationship to the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi. As fitting as that might be, the theory apparently has the lamentable disadvantage of not being rooted in fact.