Thursday, November 20, 2014
I Want to be a Mirror When I Grow Up
More unedited snippets from my 365 Days Of Writing challenge:
I have not journaled in forever. Seems I always feel the need to pretty up my words and parade them in front of people, dress them in their Sunday best and show them off to Grandma. I am always eager for that nod of approval that, yes, I am doing a wonderful job and have raised them well. Well, like the pimply teen at that first school dance, I am enticed now by the thought of stepping out onto the dance floor and giving it what I’ve got, moving, feeling, exploring with no expectation, with just the freedom of letting loose. So, patience please while I kick off these shoes, change into my favorite old tee and worn out jeans, and throw my hair up in a ponytail. Let’s give this journaling a try.
How many times do we take the stage as someone else? We put on our best smiles, throw the material up on the screen, and out comes the voice of another.
What does that mean exactly, life is short? Sometimes life is long. Sometimes it is hardly much at all. Either way it is whatever length it is. We will live it until we die. We live it poorly, or we live it well. Either way, we live it. We live it every day we wake up breathing. That does not make life short. It just makes it life.
I look to the side and there I see a little girl with mud on her face, rocks in her hands, creating pastries out of sticks and dirt. “Come play,” she says. I turn my head and pretend that I don’t see. I look again to check that she is gone. She stands now in her tutu and tights, flinging smiles, dancing for the crowd. “Come play,” she says. “Not today,” I tell her. “Not today.” It is always not today. It is never time for play. My life is business. My life is carpools and schedules and babies and chores. It is not finger paints on clean white walls, sandcastles in the sun. It is not hair loose and free, flying in the wind, spinning circles with arms stretched wide. It is not. And yet the little girl inside of me begs, begs to play, to dance, to laugh and create. She begs, and still I turn her away.
Day twenty-five and I am still at this. My first concern when presented with this writing challenge was, How will I remember? How will I make the time? How will I make certain that I never miss a day? I have said before, and I will say again that writing and I have an on-again, off-again relationship. Sometimes we are that couple in the restaurant, that couple canoodling in the corner booth, that couple that pays the bill before the food has arrived, that couple you WISH you and your partner could be. Other times, we date each other’s best friends. The thought of pledging my days to painting pictures with my words, pledging my days to never leaving them for another, for work or family or time-frittering of any sort was more than slightly overwhelming. Suffocating. Anxiety-producing. That chase scene in your dream where, no matter where you hide, you can never escape. I love you only IF you fit into my schedule, fit into my plan, only IF there is a thought inside my head, thought inside my heart, thought anywhere within ten feet. I love you only IF I choose it is convenient for ME. And, yet, my words are always there. They never leave me. They are patient and giving and far more faithful than I have ever been.
Somebody asked me the other day, “What is the secret to staying married?” I replied, “There is no secret. You wake up every day and remember that you are married. You wake up every day and decide to STAY married. You never forget that you are part of a team. It is NOT all about you.” As I sit at computer, fingers to keys, I remind myself that writing is much like a strong marriage. There IS no secret to being a writer. You wake up every morning and remind yourself that you are a writer. You wake up every morning and decide that you would like to STAY a writer. You never forget that you are married to the page, that you and your words are a team. That it is NOT all about YOU.
I’d like to imagine a world with no hearts, with no feelings, with no pain.
What is it about a challenge that invigorates me? I am and always have been that girl who, when presented with a “Bet you can’t,” stares down the speaker and replies simply, “Just you watch me.”
I am stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, and lost. I did not want to put words to page. I wanted to sleep, eat, gripe and complain.
How is it that I am fifty and still do not know what I want to be when I grow up?
I have always loved a good poem. I do not understand poetry, nor do I know the difference between this style or that. I do, however, enjoy watching words dance on a page. I get a kick out of the sound of well-penned lines floating around my head. The content is irrelevant. It is the art on the page that thrills me most. I once read a collection of haiku on diapers and leaky boobs and baby poo. It was delightful. One of my favorite poets writes for children. At least that’s what he says. I think he is sneaky in that his message plays to adults. He writes of sidewalks, attics, giraffes, and magic carpets. Whether you believe in yourself or don’t, he does. He absolutely does. He will stand behind you whispering into your ear words of encouragement and inspiration. Poems do not have to be fancy to be beautiful.
Having said that, I have nothing against a fancy poem. I swoon, I do, over a set of sharp-dressed words with a sexy smile. Put a beautiful meal in front of me with lights low and candles lit. Pour me a glass of wine and add a little soft music. Now read to me a poem of love and romance. Bonus points if you wrote it yourself. Did you bring me flowers? I’m yours.
Maybe I am going about this in the wrong way. Maybe I am defining “What I Want to Be” in terms that are not appropriate to what I am looking to find. Do I want to be a teacher, a writer, a motivational speaker? Do I want to work full-time at only this or part-time at this AND that? Do I want to work in academia or independently as an author? What am I here to do? What is my purpose? Where is my passion? What JOB am I to have?
Maybe “What I Want to Be” is not a title or a position. Maybe it is not a company nametag for which I am searching at all but, instead, a way of carrying out my life. Whether I teach or I write or I speak in front of crowds, I want always to help, to move, to empower. I want to entertain. I want to bring smiles and laughter and loads of good cheer. I want to make people think. I want to help people love themselves and love others. I want to reflect back the beauty I see when I look at you. THAT is what I want to be when I grow up! I want to be a mirror.