I’ve been thinking a lot about these two of late, resting here in the stillness in the spaces between, and this morning I got a reminder, at once painful and joyful, of how much of my life is made of the one and impacted by the other.
Since Labor Day this fall I’ve gotten into the habit of writing every morning between the hours of 7 and 9:00, rain or shine, sick or well, tired or not. It doesn’t go well every morning ~ yesterday, I only got through about 3 pages and they weren’t that satisfying, but I finally have established a writing habit and that’s joyful, even when it isn’t. The reward for days like that, when the writing doesn’t go well and you feel like maybe you’ve wasted your time and what makes you think you can be successful at this anyway and by the way don’t you have projects to grade and class prep to do? are days like today, mornings when the writing flows and you are actually with the character in his or her world as well as his or her head.
And then the battery on your laptop goes dead and the laptop itself suddenly shuts down. And you close it up and take it downstairs and plug it back in . . . only it doesn’t come back on, because it has well and truly shut down . . . so you hit the on button and go and make yourself a second cup of coffee and pack yourself a lunch . . . only to come back to find blank screen, battery charging, your word processing program and all the other applications waiting to be opened . . . and all the words you wrote and thoughts you created gone, as if the past two hours had never happened at all . . . and it’s time for you to go to campus to do some more of that project grading and class prep before your first class of the day.
There was a time when my head would have exploded and I would have been hard pressed not to throw something. Believe me, that was the default screen that was loading in my mind when I first felt that chill breeze of all-gone-hollow feeling (a singularly appropriate feeling, now that I think of it) that comes of realizing that all the words you just wrote, all the time and world you just created, are gone. None of it saved, auto or otherwise. Just gone, as if you had skipped over that two hours and gone from sleepy wake up and wash your face to dressed and picking up your sweater, backpack, and lunch bag to go out the door.
So why am I not splattered all over the walls around my desk in frustration? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because my 9:00 alert on my phone went off while I was making that cup of coffee; the 9:00 alert I set on my phone to remind me to intercede for Mama when she was sick, and now reminds me to say good morning, Mama, I love you, and sometimes “I miss you” because sometimes I do, even though I know she’s not really gone, know it so deeply that sometimes I can feel her, hear her laughter, even catch the scent of her.
Maybe that’s why.
Or maybe I’m just too old to indulge in that kind of self flagellation anymore ~ or finally old enough to know that if I wrote those words that well once, I can do it again, and maybe even better. Old enough, finally, to know that I can choose to go with the explosion that will color the whole rest of my day with negative energy . . . or understand that losing half a dozen double spaced pages of the story is a loss that can be recouped with a couple more hours work. My choice.
And the reward for choosing the latter? The local high school radio station, playing songs that spoke to me on the radio as I was driving to campus ~ I got you, babe “so let them say your hair’s too long/I don’t care, with you I can’t do wrong” that brings my James immediately to my mind, and just as I was finding a space in the parking garage, Steve Winwood singing Back in the High Life, Again ~ “and all the doors I closed one time/will open up again.” You betcha. They’ve already begun.
I think it was Mama . . . but Jeff 92 helped . . .