Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hello again

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Hello again. I have missed you.

It doesn’t happen very often, but today I have a day. A day to myself, a day to do or not, a day once threatened by the usual rush ‘n go suddenly come undone to open before me like an unexpected blank canvas awaiting a creative flourish. This day, without the usual boundaries and shape, save for a few drive bys and trips to the front door--to let out the cat, the dog in, the cat in, the dog out--and the need to eat some food, drink my tea, and take my meds at noontime, seems ripe with possibility. This happens so infrequently that I could very clearly freak out, sit in stunned silence, or busy myself with stupid chores about the house, and waste it entirely. But I won’t.

Yesterday I peeked at my horoscope for today, which warned me, in the best possible way, that I might have to do nothing today, sit back and watch from the sidelines, take it all in. So I am prepared. Since there are no games to go to, I am interpreting this as: do whatever you feel like doing, sit in front of the blazing fire in the wood stove, the windows framing the water-colored outside world of fall, and take it all in: the startling quiet and mesmerizing stillness of the house, the lovely view stretched before you, opened up now to the wetlands below, where the trees, wind-swept and nearly bared of their colorful wrapping, stand as heralds amid the resounding hush of the final days of pageantry in this autumnal parade. (Decay never looked so good.)

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Plus, I can write. I can and I may. Yipee! But why the need for permission? Need to work on that.

Between starting up the homeschool year with Dominick, helping Luke transition to high school, and the seemingly endless tugs and pulls on my time (all of my creation, of course), from chairing and serving on town committees and writing class notes to running a buying club in town and a concession stand on soccer Sundays, it’s been hard to get to my writing this fall. The words, of course, come anyway, in ceaseless waves that crash into each other and stumble and roll to some deserted, neglected shore only to fizzle back, lie flat in the suds and seep back into the swirling abyss from which they came. They come to peck and poke and prod, scratch at the front door and whine about my ears, but I have not been able to let them in, nor give them full audience. They have had nowhere to go, nothing to do but recede; not to usher forth in bubbly voraciousness onto morning pages alight with the rising sun, a brain drain to reset my artist’s clock and purge the eerie synapses of my soul. Not to fly from well-caffeinated brain to keyboard to screen at the Lady Killigrew, sip green tea, soak up the watery music from the stream below and the vibe of hipster work dates, and riff on various slices of life that have caught my eye. Not to be hammered out and reworked in chains of incensed, simmering passages from the deep wells of bared consciousness in precious moments stolen in front of the desk top at home. Not to be scribbled hastily into composition notebooks on bedside table or purse or car, no. Not to be polished for the blog, a muse on the flip side, to strain outward from these inner sanctums, a more public display of my verbose affection (or is it affliction?) So sorry.

The words have built up, of course, and clogged my head, rising up and over again to be heard, only to be lost in the ensuing crash. There’s such a great energy they bring, such anticipation and excitement in the promise that they will be voiced, and then, nothing. Oh, the disappointment. I’ve been there, and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. And yet, there it is, and at a certain point, there’s simply nothing to do but let it wash through and over you and spill onto the page. Otherwise, it makes it hard to sleep, since the words come out to play when darkness descends, and aside from hooking my brain up directly to MS word on the computer and letting it decipher just what exactly those words are saying, I haven’t figured out how to quiet them once they’ve appeared.

Life is so full, each and every day, of images and exchanges and thoughts and experiences that we take in, that if we don’t take the time to process it all into some manageable lump of consciousness and reality, we will be overwhelmed by the sheer unfiltered echo of Life. All those things we should have sifted through the sieve, sorted and tucked away suddenly rebound into our streams of awareness and we can’t quite catch a break. And of course the way we process Life is different for everyone. Some people write, others fight, some make art, others make love, some take their herbals, others meditate. The list goes on.

Lately, I have felt the clutch of fear return, and without the chance to release it onto the page, it has caroused through my consciousness, wreaking havoc, hiding out behind more dignified expressions, waiting for the ambush. Lately, I haven’t walked enough to clear my head, haven’t danced enough to shake the stresses out of heart and limb, haven’t written enough to examine and filter and sort and make sense of all those mechanisms of response and reaction and memory, haven’t let my soul sifting center take the wheel and take me for a joy ride, sing like there’s no tomorrow, silence the lurking anxiety and resound with something close to elation.

Tomorrow, I return to Mass General for my 6 month check up with Dr. Specht, my breast surgeon. I’ll have my mammo, I’ll have an exam, and I hope to reassured that everything looks fine, perfectly normal, A-okay. A week or so ago, I started focusing on this appointment, surrounded, as it has been, by a cluster of busy days that felt breathless and winded at the same time. I worried that I would not be able to spend some time with my old nemesis, look it in the eye, and cast it off, that it would stalk me, along the drive down Route 2 into Boston, in the shadows of the parking garage, and into Dr. Specht’s office. I wanted this time to be different. I wanted to feel confident, fearless, invincible. But here I am, the very day before, worried, wondering, thinking of my cousin Molly, who is just starting to go through her own cancer hell, much worse than mine ever was, and of my neighbor, who has been fighting brain cancer, and another who just succumbed to bone cancer. Sometimes, when I collect the names of those I’ve known who have done or are doing battle with cancer, and roll them about in my mind and warm them in my heart, it seems so arbitrary: who gets cancer and who stays healthy, who catches it early enough and who must cope with the ravages of a metastatic beast, who lives and who dies. There seems to be no master plan, no rhyme or reason, just a randomly picked bunch who happened to have the wrong genes at the wrong time, and as much as I hope to find reassurance in my own luck, I do not.

Instead, on this day, gifted as I’ve been with time to realize my fear, I will descend into my mantle of raging fire, and squelch the flames with the love and tenderness that encircles all of us, every day, ours for the taking, sharing, giving; with this day that feels, for now, as if it is all mine; with the comfort of a warm, quiet house that will soon fill with young voices and the busy-ness of family; with these words, liberated from an endless rinse cycle; and with this view before me—of trees draped in soft colors, a sky muted in grey, and an absolute stillness that, if it were not for the occasional orange maple leaf drifting in a singsong to the ground, I might think I was looking out on a painting. The peacefulness of the day has been pure tonic.

The surrounding calm, of course, only portends the incoming storm, due to roll in tonight. The quiet will recede into the corners, the days will fill, and Fall will eventually give way to the clutches of winter, but for now, they’ve teamed up, and Frost, now a nearly nightly visitor, has taken Fall’s handiwork to a new level, creating absolutely beautiful white ice-lined red leaves, with a delicate precision that makes me think that life is not so random after all.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

A chickadee is calling to me: Come out, come out. It's time to walk.