Back Lane in Woodford, UK (Wikimedia Commons)
“All you need now is to stand at the window and let your rhythmical sense open and shut, open and shut, boldly and freely, until one thing melts in another, until the taxis are dancing with the daffodils, until a whole has been made from all these separate fragments.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Letter To A Young Poet
Sunday, late afternoon. Sunny and warm.
I slept very soundly last night. Now that I think of it, I’m sleeping better lately, not so much up and down every two to three hours. I am still sleeping about eleven hours, but I still feel like I need it, which is so strange.
I had more vivid dreams last night. Once again, I dreamed that I was back with my ex, but I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be with Corey. I really hate dreams like that because I wake up all discombobulated, and it takes me a few minutes to regain my footing.
Corey had to work the late shift last night, so I watched television until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I have a vague memory of Corey getting home this morning and untangling me from the covers. I was probably wound up in them in my usual fight with the dogs for my portion of bed space. Of course, all of this is done without me being aware of it.
When I finally got out of bed today, I tackled all of the dishes. I don’t mind washing the dishes; what I do mind is washing the dishes while sweat pours down my face and into my eyes. Our kitchen is beastly hot at all times, and it has always been this way. But my tolerance for the heat is nil so that by the time I finish washing the dishes and wiping down the counter and stove, I’m a sopping mess. It’s quite sexy, I must say.
Anyway, I thought that I’d start a post early enough today so that I might be able to finish it without dragging it out throughout the week.
“The sky is no longer out there, but it is right on the edge of the space you are in. The sense of colour is generated inside you. If you then go outside you will see a different coloured sky. You colour the sky.” ~ James Turrell
I had a good session with my therapist on Wednesday. She asked what I wanted to talk about, and I told her that there were two possibilities: my daughter and my inability to deal with not going back to work; however, since I still hadn’t talked to Alexis, there really wasn’t much point in discussing that issue as it was at a standstill. So work it was.
One of the reasons that I like my therapist so much, aside from the fact that we have known each other for over 20 years, is that she has this innate ability to get to the heart of matters. I can tell you after seeing several different therapists, not everyone in the profession can do this.
I told her that I dream about going back to work at least three times a week and that the dreams never end well. We pondered that and a few other aspects for a bit, but ultimately she said that my loss of identity, the identity that I have always tied to having a career—making money, being successful on my own terms—my inability to deal with the loss of those things was grief, and I hadn’t dealt with that grief.
Geez. Grief? Again? No, we all know that I don’t do grief well, not at all.
What it boils down to is that as long as I keep thinking that I might be able to go back to work, then I’m never going to deal with the fact that I can’t go back to work, certainly not full time and not in the kind of careers that I have had in the past. I mean, the reality is that if I had been working in the past two weeks, out of those ten days, I would have been out of commission for four; no one is going to want someone on staff who is that unreliable, and I cannot predict when my body will decide to take a time out.
“Honest criticism means nothing: what one wants is unrestrained passion, fire for fire.” ~ Henry Miller
I had never thought of the loss of my career as something over which to grieve, but I have been working steadily since I was 15, full time since I was 18. That’s a long time. A long time in which to build confidence, a sense of identity, a sense of accomplishment. Dr. K likened it to what happens to people who retire and are totally unprepared for the major life change.
It makes complete sense when I think of it in that way, but my inability to move forward emotionally is also keeping me from enjoying something I have longed to have the leisure to do: write.
I used to dream about quitting work and writing full time. Now, I have the time, and I don’t always write. Dr. K suggested that perhaps in my goal-oriented way of thinking about things, I’ve put too many expectations on my writing, as in writing to finish my book, writing to publish, and because of this, I’m not taking the time to just enjoy the practice of writing.
I have worked on deadline with clearly-defined goals all of my life: proposals to garner funds for this or that, deadlines to go to print, presentations to recruit students, sales goals, whatever. And during all of that time, I longed, ached really, to just be able to write. For three years now, I have been about the practice of writing, but always with some goal in my mind, and my inability to pursue that goal clearly and steadfastly has made me feel that I’m not making any forward progress.
But this is the reality:
- I wrote my first post on February 26, 2008, but I did not begin to post regularly until July 2008.
- I’ve published 652 posts, and about 95 percent of those were written, not just videos.
- I average 1500 words a post, words that are mine, not quotes or poems.
- Based on about 618 real posts, that’s 927,000 words, give or take a few thousand.
Nine hundred twenty-seven thousand words . . .
- There are roughly one million words in the English language, but does that include scientific terms, acronyms, numbers, etc.?
- It is impossible to calculate accurately how many words are in the English language because there are so many mitigating factors: slang, regional dialect, words that come from other languages that are used in English (e.g., cliché, Yentl, sherpa, pierogie), parts of speech, derivations, compounds, etc.
- Unabridged dictionaries contain between 200,000 to 600,000 entries
Have I written a dictionary’s worth of words?
“Stand high long enough and your lightning will come.” ~ William Gibson
Of course not. But I’ve written a lot of words, and before today, I never calculated just how many words I’ve pounded out on various keyboards and computers at my disposal.
I’ve certainly written enough words to fill a book, but obviously that does not mean that I’ve written a book. But that’s not the point; the point is that all of this time, I have never really given myself credit for writing, just writing. I’ve always kept the presence of this elusive goal in the periphery, which makes me feel guilty for not doing more with my writing.
Perhaps if I can let go of the idea of returning to work, returning to a full-time career, and perhaps if I can allow myself to feel a sense of accomplishment for the writing that I am doing, then I will be able to move on, or at least to move beyond this standstill in which I have felt myself mired for the past few years.
I know myself too well to believe for a second that I will be able to assuage all of the guilt; I still have that strong Puritanical sensibility: hard work brings success; although to be truthful, I don’t know where it comes from. No wait. I do. It comes from my father, from both my parents, who instilled in me early that I had to work hard to succeed.
But aside from that, if I can start to let go, perhaps I’ll be able to move forward.
“I had forgotten that time wasn’t fixed like concrete but in fact was fluid as sand, or water. I had forgotten that even misery can end.” ~ Joyce Carol Oats, I Am No One You Know: Stories
I don’t know, just as I don’t know with any certainty what tomorrow will bring. I just know that I must try. I am so tired of my life being the way that it is.
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with mosaicmoods regarding the Robbins quote that I posted a few days ago about self destiny and piloting “your own ship.” What I take from the quote is that Robbins is saying that if we sit idly by and wait for things to happen to us, then we deserve what we get, but if we pilot our own ships, if we carpe diem, then we have a chance to make our dreams a reality.
Of course, the opportunities that present themselves to us are not always obvious. We are not always self-aware enough to realize that this moment in time is an open door, so we do not go through it. Or, we may sense that the open door is there, but for whatever reason, we do not go through the door. Perhaps we are afraid of what is on the other side of the door. Perhaps we are just to tired to make the journey, however small.
I only know that I have been hanging about waiting for god knows what for too long. My decision to write just to write is not an earth-shattering decision. I see it more as taking a step or two through the garden gate and down the path. Whether or not that path arrives at a cottage by the sea doesn’t really matter at this point.
To be perfectly honest, I’m just glad to be on the path.
More later. Peace.
Music by Thirteen Senses, “Gone”
Untitled by Halina Poswiatowska
these words have always existed
in the open smile of a sunflower
the dark wing of a crow
in the frame of a door left ajar
even when there was no door
in the branches of a
and you want me
to have them to myself
crow’s wing the birch and the summer
you want me to buzz
as beehives do
when open to sunshine
i do not own these words
from the wind from the bees and from the sun
(Translated by Marek Lugowski)
*Just an aside. It’s now 9 p.m. I began this post at 5 p.m. It has taken everything in me not to get up and walk away from trying to publish this damned thing. The computer began to act up as soon as I started to insert my images. Argh . . .