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Archive for the ‘roadblocks’ Category

Jacinda's scrollwork

Kathy O, who lived 5 doors down the street, would, when things weren’t going her way, pack up all the dresses she’d brought for dress-ups and head home, leaving the rest of us sitting there. That’s just how she was.

Why am I thinking about her today? Now?

I’ve been picturing Lewis & Clark, looking west,
about to head off to places they’ve never been,
not knowing in advance the full distance,
how long it might take,
what may be required of them.

I would have been dead weight on that expedition, what with bears and mud and weather and needing to lift boats and supplies and carry the whole shebang around waterfalls. Traveling upstream! And not speaking the language of so many they encounter.

I would not have said yes
(not that I would have been invited).

I’m forced to face this truth about myself. I would not have gone. I’d have hunkered down in my cabin, stayed put and let someone else go.

I shiver, just thinking about that journey, and I think I know why.
That same fear is close to me, not far. Not 2 centuries ago.

I, too, stand on a frontier, like most of us do at least once in our lives. We stand, and what lies ahead is a frontier to us. We don’t know what we’re heading into. We might have ideas about it. We may have heard bits and pieces from what others said they thought they saw when they were out there, or what they heard someone else say, but really we don’t know for sure what’s out there, what we’ll face.

We don’t know about it
and we don’t know about ourselves,
whether we have what it takes.

It becomes clear me, when I visit the Lewis & Clark exhibit and I feel the slug in me resisting, saying, “NO WAY I’d sign up for that” that I see where I truly am, standing on my own frontier, weighing the inconvenience of it all and leaning toward staying home by the fire with a cup of tea.

I see this about myself, that I’m all for someone else making the trip and I’ll come to a museum and learn all about it. But blaze the trail, me?
Would I be willing to be that inconvenienced and discomforted?
Am I willing now, on my own frontier?

Or will I, like Kathy O, choose to pack up my story and take it home?

And if I do, who will I be leaving out there all alone, to shiver in the cold?
I keep thinking about that father at the cookout.

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In their book “On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts,” Ann  & Charity remind me to stoke the creative fires by getting out and doing something different, something artful perhaps. Something other than writing. On purpose. I am sometimes big on theory and short on follow-through.

Frazier 1
ALL OVER TOWN, I see billboards for the Lewis & Clark exhibit at the Frazier History Museum. “Walk 7,000 miles in their shoes, without the blisters.”

“I’m definitely going to that!” I say.

I set a reminder for Sunday afternoon. “Go to the Frazier this week?” But when Sunday arrives and I hear the alert, the coming week feels too full. I change the alert to the following Sunday, to be reminded again.

The following Sunday, same thing. I move the reminder forward yet another week.

There’s always so much to do.
There’s always dinner to make, the dog to walk, a Lowe’s return, a call to make, a call to take, packing or unpacking, a letter to write, workmen due, a birthday card to buy.

I keep driving around.
I keep seeing billboards.
I keep meaning to go.
I keep resetting the reminder.

And what about the story I promised to write? Just where am I with that?
Stuck. I have no idea where I am. This is no time for wandering museums.

BUT TODAY I go.
I go to the Frazier.
I’m not there 10 minutes on the frontier with them, facing the enormous challenge, the great distance that must be covered, the dangers that lie ahead, the work, the discomfort, the very real possibility of not surviving, or worse, turning back before reaching the end point,
than I see more clearly than ever
my own frontier,
my own fears.

Now I know where I am, a good thing to know.
But I had to go downtown to learn it.

More details in coming posts.
Frazier 3
Frazier 2

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morning tracks in snow

TRACKS
across fresh snow
on the back porch
beg to be captured,
I don’t know why,
the same way
I don’t know why
I had to write down
somewhere
all that happened,
just so it’s there
someplace,
the view from my window.

But they’ve caught my attention,
made me wonder.

Have the tracks I was leaving
been erased by what’s happened?
The answer, I think,
lies in my response,
the steps still to come.
It’s all one long story,
the story of a life.

I think I’ll get dressed and go to church and see my people,
the people with the long view.

How It Starts

How It Starts

Real Reason Most Journals are Abandoned

Real Reason Most Journals are Abandoned

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Follow the stone markers,
I’m told.

I go up the dusty barren road
3 times
before I see them,
they blend in so well.

And isn’t that always the way?
There they were
the whole time,
but I was imagining something else,
looking for something different
.

* * *

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Even now, seeing them plain as day,
I hesitate,
stopping to consider, to assess,
looking into the scrub,
whether this can indeed be the way to go.
It looks like a path to nowhere.

I have no reason to trust this,
except it was told to me
by someone who’s made the trek.

* * *

I step off, following.
Piles of rock are all I have to go by.
Stone markers.
A pure faith walk.

Following.
There’s something so foreign about it.
Also, freeing.

A slight twist,
a small turn
and
all of a sudden
there it is
just what I’ve been looking for –
so close by
all along
.

And isn’t that always the way?

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images: Photos from my visit to the Threshold installation at Laity Lodge.

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AN UPDATE on the shade garden, a reminder that even in places where people say nothing will grow, things can happen. Never give up.

2010

2010

the shade garden in 2013

2013

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IMG_6884

“How about we choose one a week that we don’t talk about it?”

AFTER WE GIVE HUGS and send them off, the little family…

After the Tangoes are put away
and the Ken doll’s sandal is found laying on a table
and the Matryoshka dolls
are tucked back into each other, safe…

After I take care of the sticky
from the orange juice spill,
and smile,
thinking of the moment the cup tipped
and how much this old table has seen…

I am glad for the friend,
slowed by the storm
on his way from Michigan to North Carolina.
I am glad he accepted our invitation to stay the night,
glad to see his children again –
how much they’ve grown!
I am happy they remembered my house
and where the favorite toys were kept.

I am grateful for our chance to catch up,
to hear his story.
And I’m glad, I think,
we didn’t get into ours.

But mostly I’m glad
they didn’t see me cry.

* * *

SOMETHING’S got to give.

“How about for the new year
we choose one day a week
to not talk about it?” I suggest later.

Because we’ve been talking about it every day for months –
first thought in the morning,
last at night.
table conversation,
car conversation.
We consider it a good day
if no new shoes have dropped.

Heads on pillows,
we sigh long,
wonder,
every 24 hours, like clockwork,
how we will ever fall asleep.
We always do, though.

Can we do it?
Can we pick one day a week and not talk about it?
Is it possible?
Is it healthy?

We refine the plan:
“If something comes up
we need to discuss, we will,
then choose a different day that week.”

Agreed.
And it feels like progress
’cause somewhere along the line
you have to take back control of your life
and maybe this is a start.

If we’re ever again
going to have a life
not dominated by this crisis,
better start now.

An act of faith that it’s possible. Practicing for it.

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I’VE BEEN LIVING in the midst of a storm
that hit
without warning –

no time to batten hatches,
no time to acquire Band-Aids large enough
to stop the bleeding.

By the time it hit
it was too late for that.

* * *

COSTS ADD UP.
Already I’ve spent:

sufficient time
beating myself up
for not having seen it coming,

sufficient imagination
on what I might have done,
had I an inkling,

sufficient panic
over who might know,

sufficient tears
washed down the shower drain

sufficient anger

sufficient self-pity
(Is this not the ugliest thing?)

I have also,
as is my tendency,
withdrawn.

* * *

ON THE PLUS SIDE,
I’ve filled a journal.
I’ve gone away to a far place to breathe
and to fall into a river
not once, but twice! –

and to laugh
at the metaphor of baptism
total immersion,
surrender,
yielding.
Okay,
I get it, but do I have to leave here
and go back home?

Yes, that’s always the sticking point, isn’t it?
Whatever the epiphany,
you come up out of the waters
and must go home
and step back into life –
the same life,
but a different you,
you hope.

Legs wobbly,
steps unsure.

I see a one-year-old
get up from a crawl,
stand on two legs
and move forward
like she’s done it many times before.
She hasn’t.

But I have.
Do I have it in me for one more time?

Sometimes, in the midst of a storm
the best we can do
is hold on.

Hold on,
and after that,
have the courage
to go out,
assess the damage
and begin again,
picking up sticks.

I have no confidence in my own ability.
Maybe that’s a good place to start.

Comments disabled. If this post resonated with you today, please share it somewhere or click “like.” Thank you for reading. As always, feel free to email me with any thoughts you have.

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