I guess I have never been a person who worried too much about what was proper, except when it came to morals.
When I was small, I was the kid running around wearing my brother's old shirts, putting the cat in the tub with me, completely unconcerned about what shoes I wore, when I even wore them.
My friend Gary came over last night and we had a good visit. He used to do a lot of creative writing, but not in recent years, as he has a demanding job at UGA. "I don't want to start writing when I only have 10 minutes. That's not enough time to do it right," he said.
It reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with a longtime friend who chided me about not praying properly. "I wouldn't bother God with anything so trivial as a parking place," she had said.
I've always been impatient with that kind of thing.What's wrong with asking God for a good parking place? No matter what words I use, or where I am, I firmly believe God knows my heart, and nothing is out of bounds with him. He isn't some guy sitting up there in the sky. He's within me. Within us all.
Back to writing...
I don't write because I think everything I write is going to be perfect. I'd say probably less than 10% of anything I write creatively is even good, much less awesome, or important, or proper.
But here's the thing: if you get hung up too much on propriety, you will stagnate.You will quit moving forward.
The irony is that Gary and my friend who made that remark are both hugely intelligent folks, highly accomplished. Gary has a Ph.D.
In comparison, I have only an MA. My life is sometimes messy and I veer off in improper directions all.the.time. But I am not complacent. I charge ahead, even if it's in the wrong direction. I MOVE. I make some people quite uncomfortable, I know.
In my defense, I've always tried to remember my manners, and not hurt anyone else when I am blundering around.
I told Gary to just sit down and write for 15 minutes every day, even if he never shows anybody what he writes. The only real way to learn to write is to DO IT.
Since I've become friends with fellow poet Cliff Brooks, I've felt re-energized, in terms of my writing. I've been writing a lot of poems. They are not great. I will likely never get them published anywhere. Yet, they nourish me. I can't define how. There are things bubbling away in my subconscious sometimes that I'm not even aware of until I think about writing a new poem.
When I was chatting Friday with my surgeon and telling her about some of the leakage from one of my incisions, she said basically, if wounds don't drain they can become infected. Later, I realized there's a metaphor there, and it applies to all of life basically.
Sometimes Michael confides things in me and I realize, he is letting that wound drain. I can see the relief on his face as he speaks. To me, this is the most important part of being a parent. If your child can't confide in you the things closest to their heart, you are denying them the chance to heal. You are risking infection, perhaps even risking terrible consequences. Sometimes I feel that's what happened with my daughter, and I regret not being a better listener with her.
Then again, I never could get her to really trust me, no matter how hard I tried.
Oh well, I can only move forward...
I showed Gary a poem yesterday that I wrote recently. It's not a great poem [see below]. It won't win any prizes. But writing it helped me remember that my basic nature has always been to be fearless, to reach for things that others say are impossible or dangerous.
Sometimes I want to say to some of my very proper friends, just GO FOR IT. If you want to write, write. Don't worry about it being perfect. Don't worry about pleasing anyone but yourself.
My friend Lesleigh left last year to go back to school and learn a completely new profession. She did something incredibly scary BUT she followed her passion.
You cannot grow as a person if you are always comfortable, and proper. Get messy. Screw up. Try again. Don't let anyone trample your ideas.
"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living."
Home By Dark [a work in progress, like my life]
I remember the formica countertop beneath my hands,
My wiry arm muscles bearing the brunt of it, swinging my leg up
To the countertop, the land of the cabinet.
I was a climber.
Nothing was out of reach.
I surveyed my kingdom, the back yard, from atop the swingset,
while still in diapers.
As a toddler, I grabbed a flat-bottomed cotton basket and rode it down the front stairs.
At two, I hated clothes.
The bosses’ wife found me sitting atop the fridge, wearing nothing, listening to party sounds from the den.
“Aren’t you cold up there, hon?”
Only the threat of a spanking got shoes on my feet in the warm months.
One day when I was 7, my brother and I hiked a long way down the nearly-dry creek bed
without shirts. We were on safari in Africa, and our pack mules had died.
Some neighborhood boys saw us, pointed and laughed at me. Brother threw me my shirt and we trudged home, slapping mosquitos.
I made mud pies, buried green plastic soldiers,
Fashioned masterpieces with light brites and Legos,
Cheated at Operation and Candyland,
Coveted slingshots and bikes.
Beat all the boys at
Front yard football, kickball, and hide and go seek.
We had to be home by dark, or when called for supper.
I was always home
Before the moon shone high and clear.
"Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession. Friendship is never anything but sharing."
- Elie Wiesel