Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life

It's raining here on the pond this morning, but it's a welcome rain.

Once again, I feel enchanted. AT 52, I am living the life I've always imagined. OK, there is no handsome prince and I would welcome that addition even more than rain, AND I still worry about money, but there are SO many other good things. Really Good Things.

After decades of avoidance, I am writing fiction and finding that ideas spool out of me. That thing I thought I didn't have--the ability to create characters out of whole cloth--it's not necessary. Maybe no one has it. Maybe every writer takes a snippet from one person they know or have seen and stitches it to a snippet from someone else. Maybe everyone's characters are patchwork quilts sewn from scraps of their life's experiences. I don't know that, but I DO that I can do it that way. AND I know that this is the most motivated, the most energized I've been in many, many years.

Blogging has enriched my life beyond imagining. I've met so many brilliant, loving people (some only in cyberspace, others in actual space as well). The sum total of talent on any given blog roll could power the turning of the Earth if necessary. (Yesterday I didn't know what hyperbole was and now I ARE one, as they say down home). Seriously, I am in awe of the talent out there. And seeing the risks others are taking encourages me to move out from behind my protective shields and TRY. I may make a fool of myself, but it won't be the end of the world. People will help me figure out where I went wrong and I'll try again.

So simple. So freeing. So new to me.

Unfortunately, I still have to do the work that pays the bills. And Mom needs more care than we anticipated after her surgery. And friends are going through bad times.

Last week I took a load of staples to a friend whose husband had just come home to hospice care—things like paper towels and coffee and trash bags. Everyone there was holding up well, carrying themselves bravely and lovingly. But when I walked in with a Costco bale of toilet paper, my friend's sister fell apart, sobbing and snorting and struggling to breathe. When she finally got hold of herself, she said, "I can't stand it. RH is dying, but we still need toilet paper."

Later I came to understand what she meant. No matter what happens, no matter how starkly awful or how great the loss, the world goes right on turning. People keep shitting. They keep needing toilet paper. The pain we feel doesn't stop the world.

That's tough. It's also wonderful. No matter how bad things get, Life keeps going. The sun rises and the sun sets. We get another chance at life, at love, at screwing up or doing well or something in between. Some day our personal chances will end, but the rest of the world will still need toilet paper.

Gotta take yourself a little lighter when you realize that, don't ya think? Gotta steep yourself in gratitude for the NOW. I do, anyway.


Suzy said...

First of all, at 52 you are enchanting. And don't think of "After decades of avoidance, I am writing fiction and finding that ideas spool out of me," as dodging your work. Think of those decades as a living journal where all your life's experiences have been safely kept.
And now is the time to be writing.
You are so more than ready...

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

When a dear friend of mine died I had a dream and in it the dream said:
"Life continues to continue..."
when i read what you wrote, that one line came straight out of my mouth...
it is hard to imagine going to buy toilet paper, or taking out the garabage in the face of such terrible lost...but life continues to unfold and call us in the very mundane needed acts...and we must stand up and move, even if our hearts would rather not.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I am so glad you stepped up and are on the journey, you are taking so many with you. Nothing ventured,nothing gained.

You captured the irony of minutiae in the midst of crisis, perfectly. Lovely.

liz elayne said...

it is true...the idea that the world keeps spinning does suddenly hit you at some point in your moment of grief. and it is weird. yet it is also one of the gifts in the middle of it all because it means you have no other choice but to keep going.
thank you for sharing this and expressing your thoughts so eloquently. i am sitting her on my couch nodding my head. yes, yes, yes.

ceanandjen said...

Hello :-) Like Liz, I read and nodded, read and nodded. Congratulations on feeling so alive, it is a wonderful feeling to find some peace within, even though the outside world is still handing us challenges. It is true, that through the challenges, life must continue. Somehow, we learn and we grow and survive. Beautiful.

Thank you for your sweet comment on my page. :-)

Speedy Chick said...

I've been reading your blog faithfully for a while now. I was recommended by Mike whom I work with. I really enjoy your writing and find it inspirational. I have started my own blog but I have a little trouble expessing myself. I guess eventually it will come to me in one form or another:)

Thank You

Britt-Arnhild said...

Life must go on, and to talk about things, to cry and laugh together helps us on the road.
Did I say in my very first comment to you that we live very different lives? You are rigbht, we are all more alike than we know.

tinker said...

You are an inspiration.
Thank you for reminding me (I need reminding all the time) to steep myself in gratitude. For the here and the now - and even the continuing need for toilet paper - because the world does go on, no matter what any of us are going through.

Anonymous said...

You are so right. I just heard today that a friend's husband is facing stage IV melanoma - he's 52 and they have a 12 year old daughter. That was a great reality check for me - who cares if my pants from last winter are too tight! I'm healthy and here to wear them, and I'm so grateful :)

Mike said...

The day after my father`s funeral in June of 1976 I visited my brother and his wife. They were in the process of laying new carpet in their livingroom. It made me feel good. At the age of 16 it pleased me to realize that life had to go on.
When Christmas arrived my mother and I decorated the house as usual. A tree in the livingroom and bright lights outside. Some neighbors were suprised because the tradition was to "not go all out" on the first Christmas after a family member died. Not Mom and I. Our lives went on.
Ten years later my mother left us. A few days after the funeral my sister was upset with me because I was outside with my brother-in-law playing with bottle rockets. She thought it was disrespectful. Too much noise! Maybe so, but I`d shed a few tears and there were more to follow, but on that afternoon I HAD to have some fun. I couldn`t keep walking around with my chin pressed against my chest.

Life goes on. Toilet paper will still have to be bought.


Remiman said...

That's a terrific outlook! I try to see each day as a gift and an opportunity for new adventures, meet new people, and try to bring a smile to all I meet.

~NanCourt~ said...

Jerri, You are a jewel!
I have lost so many family members...it is down to just my sister and me basically. What I have learned through the loss is that, yes, life goes on and it is up to us to live it.
BTW, it seems my blog is having "issues" which I cannot see and do not know how to correct.
I see everything normally but I think it must be have PMS or something....at least I am hearing that folks cannot see this or that. *sigh*

Tammy said...

So true my friend, so true!

Wenda said...

In 1991, a month after my sister died I was standing in the kitchen of a beautiful little suite I'd just rented on the top floor of an old house in Vancouver. I remember the poignance of that bittersweet moment when I looked out through the lead pane windows to the mountain view and thought out loud as if speaking to her "oh, I am so happy ... and you ... are so dead," before sinking into tears again.

I've bought so much toilet tissue since then.

Skyelarke said...

Life keeps on trucking. That's what I learned when my sis ended up in a wheelchair and again when I had my miscarriage. Yet, even then, there is beauty and/or beautiful moments to find among the darkness.