Saturday, June 12, 2010

What Now?

As the rain beats unrelentingly outside my bedroom window, I recall just how incompatible the New England weather and I actually are.

I never thought I would be returning to Exeter New Hampshire. Now that I am here, I have no idea what I expected, in my planning and travels, my experience here to be. Now that I am here, however, I have no idea what to feel, to think, or even to be.

Following Ondrelique's graduation, the girls and I are staying on as house guests in Exeter, New Hampshire, . It was an unforeseen pitstop to say the least; and, being very unaccustomed to accepting hospitality of any kind, I find myself a rather poor house guest. It is odd how easily we all slip into modes of thought and behavior. For me, the objective has been the very frustrating cycle of survival-recovery-survival-recovery that basic human responses and sensations now seem...foreign. That kind of emotional and psychological detachment, I am told, is not unusual in "near death" situations. The problem is, I never felt as though death were particularly near to me: just the constant gnawing of my own perceived inadequacy.

(Chance, was it Dan Brown in your class...or his brother Chris?"

Drawing a complete blank: "Brown...Brown...I think so. I'd have to put a face to the name, though...?"

"Do you know who I'm talking about?"

"Uh...Brown...?" I mutter, still utterly lost.

"The Da Vinci Code?"

"...Oh. Yeah. Him." We were in the same general class, weren't we? Man, do I feel like a complete failure!)

Being here again has awakened sleeping ghosts--curled quietly in the dark corners of my hidden psyche--that I did not even realize existed. How odd it is that we human beings find phantasms of reality lurking behind every corner while the imaginary shadows of our most deeply-seeded insecurities take on the depths and dimensions of Unavoidable Truth. For me, the notion of myself as unforgivably lazy (rather than recovering from a severe medical setback)

Years before, when youthful confidence never allowed me to for a moment lose track of my own sense of self-worth, not once did I doubt my ability to take this world into the palm of my hand, then nonchalantly set the sucker on fire. Strength and determination lent to the illusion of invincibility which deluded me into believing that time, though of importance to everyone else, would bend to my will. Nothing would change unless I first gave it permission. Life existed to do my bidding. And if I didn't like it...well, then, life had to deal with my omnipotent wrath.

Now, as I struggle to relax and enjoy the respite so generously proffered, I wander the only semi-familiar pathways of Phillips Exeter Academy searching for traces of that fearless young girl. Where, exactly, is she...and why can I not find her (alongside those specters of my ever-growing dissatisfaction) within me? After twenty-plus years, did I truly expect to see her, some benign adumbration of my most secret longings, bopping past the Academy Building or Phillips Hall? Or, was I hoping to catch some whiff of her youthful essence--imagined or no--floating on some summer breeze as a reminder of all that I was, all that I once hoped to be?

Whatever it was that I had in mind, the fact remains that these last few years have caused a mental rift between the person I am and the person I now deem myself to be. In my mind, medical setbacks have come to represent abject failure. It was one thing, to be told that the end was unavoidable, leaving me no choice but to make peace with myself and my own failings. Now, this miraculous second (or third, maybe fourth) chance at life is...daunting. So much of my former passion for living seemed to have already passed on to the fabled Other Side: and, as such, I find myself left with no concept of who and what I now wish to be.

Do I even have a desire to write any longer? Does writing evoke in me any sense of pleasure or accomplishment any longer. Do I even care if I write Great American Novel at this stage of my life? At a time when everything I thought I knew or believed about myself and those around me has come into question?

I have no idea....

But here--now--is a great place to find out.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Onward and Upward

This morning I awoke late, having actually slept the night through. The morning being a chilly one, I found myself--now unaccustomed to the biting New England weather--shivering my way quite slowly through my morning routine. So many tasks lie before me, leaving me cringing at the thought of even facing the internet...much less the silent, menacing threat of my mobile phone.

Still, I remind myself that life holds the bright promise of each new day; and positivity is, as always, more productive than its evil twin. So, onward and outward we go, learning from the mistakes of yesterday, relying upon the wisdom of life lived, preparing for the worst...

Yet expecting the best.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Changing Identities

When I started this blog, I had no idea that life held such challenges in store for me. It seemed such a simple endeavor: now that my children were older and no longer needed such constant supervision and intercession, the time was ripe for making serious changes in my life. The option to make those choices, furthermore, based on my own wants, needs, and desires (within the boundaries of common sense and basic reason) had finally presented itself. And, albeit I had not regretted putting certain objectives on hold while concentrating on motherhood and raising a family, from the outset, the Master Plan had been to return to my first love (creative writing) once the children were older.

Yet, so many unanticipated obstacles have arisen.

Who could have predicted the sharp turns in the pathways ahead?

It amazes my how different the woman typing this entry is from the enthusiastic creature who embarked upon the process of chronicling this portion of life's journey an eternity ago! She is harder, less optimistic. Her faith in herself, in others, in love, in human nature, even in the basic premise of symbiotic balance in life have been ripped out of her, roots and all. What is left is a floundering of mind, body, and spirit so bewilderingly foreign that she stands bemused and disoriented, searching for familiar landmarks around her, within herself, within those s
he once held dear.

The most frightening thing of all?

I no longer enjoy writing.
As much as I tell myself the change in attitude is a temporary one, something deep within knows that this is not the case. Writing holds no interest for me now. It is a habit, comforting in some ways but by no means engaging or fulfilling.

It is all so terrifying.

Since childhood, the love of writing, of reading, of weaving sounds and syllables, sights and settings into intricate stories showcasing the many nuances of life--what it was, what it should be, what it asked of those who partook of it, and all that it demanded of us all--has defined me. If paper and pencil were not at hand, I scratched out lines on the soft-silted powder that dusted the summer-scorched earth. I wrote entire volumes in my head, able to mentally turn the pages and edit each individual line as easily, as concisely as my mother might have corrected her students' English papers.

It was all so vital. So very real.
Now I find myself wondering who I am, how I will spent my time, on what will I expend my energies, where will I direct my passions, what will become of me, what might I possibly do...

If I can longer write...?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rites of Passage

This past weekend, my middle daughter graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy...

It tuned out to be the worst day of my entire life.

Despite the fact that the occasion marked the first time in nearly a year my little quartet was all together, everything which possibly could go wrong...did. (Trust me, this is no exaggeration.) From broken zippers on brand new dresses to packing problems, financial fiascos, horrendous health, and domicile dilemma's, this--which promised to be one of the most pivotal moments in my daughter's life...

Ended in disaster.

It afforded, however, the opportunity to reflect upon the many facets of human existence. I found myself ranting at the inconveniences, the complications which arose from my new status: everyday nobody. Returning to Exeter as far less than the conquering hero was humiliating enough; therefore, the inability to fully celebrate this monumental achievement with my children was utterly devastating. Once again, I had failed them. Yet again, doom, despair, agony, and pestilence were sure to result. The world would end, we would all die in the oft-predicted heap, and "why-oh-why didn't I just buy it in the stupid hospice and have the whole thing over with?"

Still, bad grammar and all, the fate I expected did not and will not materialize--as I well knew, even during the dimmest moments. Challenges arise when least expected (or, most expected for we the incurably cynical), demanding of one the best she has to offer: courage, strength, resilience, perseverance, and honor. To strive for the best in oneself during the worst of life's disappointments is, perhaps, the truest reflection of inner beauty and grace. For perfectionists, the focus in life is so unwaveringly riveted upon success that the priceless nature of merely attempting the impossible (rather than achieving it) is overshadowed.

Once again I am reminded that the majesty of life lies in the living...

Not the avoidance...

Even when it comes to Graduation Days from...Hades.

Keep on livin', ya'll.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You Think Too Much!

"You think too much!"

How many times have I heard that one?

(Or, its sister assertion, "You're too smart for your own good!")

Perhaps I have fallen into the trap of over-analyzing anything and everything that dares cross my path. And, even though that tendency to mentally disassemble the many, varied sections of life to understand all that lies around me feeds the creative beast within, there is something to be said for setting free the more impulsive aspects of one's nature in order to absorb life. How easy it is to forget that particular sensation!

At the moments, my thoughts are directed towards the future. And the future need not be a bleak one. Not long ago, in the throes of disillusionment, I found myself dwelling on the negatives life had to offer. Its failures seemed far more significant that any promises it might hold. Failing health, disappointments in relationships, the demise of childhood dreams: these loomed above me as the bleakest yet most concrete of all actualities...

Yet, with time and clarity have come renewed optimism. It is true, I have been ill; however the recovery which was deemed irrefutably impossible now lies within reach. Granted, financial instability is a daunting presence in my current life; but, in this economy, quite a few individuals can easily say the same. One dollar lost is identical to any future dollar gained, while the true treasures of life--joy, fulfillment, contentment, achievement, peace, satisfaction, love--are truly unique: ever-changing and irreplaceable from moment to moment. Yes, I have recently experienced heartbreak; however even this came as a result of one of the deepest, truest glimpses of friendship and kindness one could ever experience. As always, the pain of loss subsides, giving way to remembered laughter, shared confidences, and images of true happiness, all of which remind me that it certainly is better to have loved and lost to have never known that particular moment of loving at all. And, I must admit, even the desire to write--though not completely restored to me--cowers in hidden corners, daring to lift a tentative glance towards the light of inspiration.

The time has come to stop over-analyzing, to stop trying to arrange my life into neat or perfect columns and rows.

I think to much.

It is time I remembered how to again simply BE.