Somewhere packed away in the dusty confines of my parents attic I’M SURE the placard I cannot recall all the “If You..” words to is stored. Something along the, “If you open it, close it. If you use the last, refill, etc. I am thinking of this today, not because as Thankful Thursday is again upon us I am somehow grateful for these life lessons, but rather because as Thankful Thursday is upon us, I think I understand better why I feel I must acknowledge my gratitude.
I went this morn to get a contract for a counselor. I opened the drawer, and there were none. Going into storage I pulled some more from the package and filled the bin so the next time I needed one it would be were it should be and I would save the 36 steps to claim more. This afternoon as I ate my lunch, my assistant came in all a dither turning in circles to find something. When I enquired what she needed,
“We are out of contracts”.
“When were all those that I had put in the bin this morning used?”
“Oh. When I went to get some yesterday there were none there.”
“I see. And thus, knowing there were none, instead of filling them up you left the bin empty for someone else to find vacant and fill, so that they had to scamper to get some just as you were believing you had to do now. Correct?”
“You also did not bother to look, but assumed that no one had needed them while you were gone and thus the job had not been accomplished. Yes?”
How simple a thing to worry about the next person behind you. To take the few moments to prepare for what may come, even if you are not the immediate benefactor. I believe this is how we as a society at large are degrading. We have stopped worrying about each other. Stopped bothering to prepare for what might come. And, we have stopped looking for the good in others to do what we could not be bothered to complete. How amazing the day will be when we stop being surprized that someone else does.
Today is just another day. I’ve been productive, but not feeling profound, so it’s roll your own Wednesday today. What’s new in your world? What are the plans to make it better? If you got 24 hours to do anything in the world, no limits. Not money, distance, company…what would you do?
Hit me with your best shot!
Sometimes when the dark clouds roll thru and we make hard choices, we manage to find the light that reignites creativity and purpose. Torching my feeble attempt at telling the story I’ve been working on my way was such a moment. Sitting down to write day after day is not the chore, not the burden, not the heartbreak that it has been for some time and the story feels like the characters are doing it, instead of me now.
I liken myself to the Nadia character from Alias on the Rambaldi serum, scribbling away from muscle memory the words in order with no aid or assistance from me. It’s as if they’ve been squealing all along to be let out and instead of opening the door, I’ve been asking for the password.
As night falls on a chilly Autumn eve, I am reminded of the meaning behind perseverance. It is not carrying thru when the world is turning your way. It is pushing thru against all odds when the deck is stacked against you. It’s holding a King when the dealer has an ace showing, passing back the seven and saying ‘HIT ME’.
Yesterday was a rainy, cold, crummy day. In the midst of that cold rain my 15-year-old practiced outside for the halftime show during class time without a jacket. After lessons and pushing thru a circuit swim practice she returned to practice for halftime another hour in the cold rain before suiting up and heading to the stadium. The temperature was fifty degrees at kick off. They sat in the stands in uniform on wet bleachers, cheering for a team in the throes of a difficult contest before getting up and going to march in forty-something temps on the open field to play for a less than packed house. Many stayed home to keep warm and dry. Not them. The show must go on and the band was there to provide. The unsung heroes to me will always be the ones who do what the masses won’t.
Why do I tell you this? Because this morning before the sun peered over the horizon that same 15-year-old got up with no voice, clogged ears, and a hack that would put smokers to shame. She got up, put on her suit and sweats, grabbed her bags and went to school to board the bus for a 4 hour swim meet in another town. She didn’t want to be there, by rights shouldn’t have been there, but there she was. A frog screaming for her team from the end of the pool and pulling a little harder as they in turn cheered for her when it was her time to swim. Not an olympian, but an olympian effort as she swam three events in the last twenty minutes of the meet, two of them back to back.
I am reminded by her perseverance of the power of will. The thing inside all of us that will push us to do what is right and necessary when in our heart of hearts the easy path is in the opposite direction. It is true for writing, for work, for play, for life.
The swim team shirt this year says, “Adversity causes some men to break. It causes great men to break records.” I would add great young women.
Today I burned my manuscript. I literally took the hard copy, stood in the Autumn rain, chucked it in with the coals and set it to flame. It was liberating. Standing there watching the fire catch and the words turn to ash, I was freed. Freed from the harsh parameters that I set for myself when I began, and freed from the assault, self-inflicted assault as I fought to put the story to words and force it to become the tale I know so well. Now, I’m not crazy. I have the notes, the research, and a jump drive copy stashed away. It isn’t gone. What it is though, is a blank page to tell the story as it’s telling itself to me.
I have struggled with the telling for weeks, endless weeks, trying to force the tale into the paradigm I created when I took it on. The feelings of anguish and abuse as I tried to make the story fit words that were not quite right is gone. The notion of the characters beating me up as they club me about the head to get it right, gone. I enjoy a bit of domination and bondage as much as the next, but the characters were deigning my demise as I fought to tell the tale with words that were not theirs. I was not being true to the story, and I felt it with every keystroke.
I am not a great writer. Yet. I am however a good writer, in my not so humble opinion, and I think it takes a good writer to step back and look from the outside in at the words and say, “This is not right. It is not what I set out to do. I cannot salvage this story telling it this way and have it be the great tale that it is.” I am a good writer. I know the story by heart and can tell it as it should be, just not from the place I was.
So, as I sit here on a dreary rainy equinox morn, counting my blessings and embracing the dark half of the year to come I realized that my tale needed something I was not giving it. With the bounty I have been given, it will take the dark to shine light to what should be. What could be. And, what will be everything I dreamed it to become as I put away my ego and let the story be told thru me as the characters tell it, not as I ascribe the better way to be.
It’s Thursday, my normal day to remember to be vigilant in my attitude of gratitude and yet here I sit, and I am not. I am not grateful, I am not thankful or insightful into the blessings I have been given. I feel kicked and abused, used, tossed away and hoping the next thing into the refuse bin isn’t a half-finished hot coffee.
So what do you do? How do you overcome? In many ways it’s a lot like I have found writing to be. It is an exercise in perseverance. It’s a matter of keeping going even if it’s less than your best, knowing that the opportunity to do better is in there somewhere. Just like crappy first drafts, crappy days are the building blocks of something better. They are the measure of what better is, by knowing what it is not. They become the floor upon which you stand up, dust yourself off, and eventually – even if timidly, open your wings and hope for wind. They are the days you practice the ‘ole college try mentality of fake it ’til you make it.
With that, and a smile I plastered on (after checking the mirror to make sure it didn’t look like I was going to eat children), I am thankful for today as it means the road ahead has more opportunities to be better than today than chances to be worse.
Take a few days off and the world turns at a different pace. It’s Wednesday already and I’m so far behind I’m only early for last week. My beautiful daughters had their birthdays and I had a mini vacation. Writing time in quiet, such a foreign concept. To hold you over for the day…It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s Storytime. Actually, the last time Swingers will post to the blog, so check out the latest piece. With good will and good fortune the balance of the story will be available with the first 8 parts in October on amazon. Thank you all for the support.
With immense gratitude for the last 8 weeks of wonder