I have begun on an entirely new project. My water heater threatened to damage all of my old writing: poetry, plays, and short stories from the last two and a half decades nearly destroyed! So I began the epic task of digitalis ingredients it all. This is available and open at Writingthentonow
Has ever such a simple word been filled with such hope, such longing, such terror and such fear?
Little Orphan Annie with her eyes towards the future spreads her arms wide, belting out the word. What joy and hope that curly red head inspired even to this day that a single word can inspire a song and the thrill of anticipation. With a glass half full, the future is a beacon and a boon. Promises not yet fulfilled are a thing of beauty so long as they remain unbroken.
But there is also the tomorrow of Macbeth, that poor, doomed, half mad man.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time…
– Act V scene 5, Macbeth, William Shakespeare
Has ever a word so encapsulated the monotony of plodding time without punctuation of passion? Time passes and passes swiftly by but without verve, without emotion are we but zombies filling seats, pushing paper, dragging our way through for want of anything more.
What is tomorrow to you? Faced with these options, I think of Lewis Carroll ‘ s White Queen: “The rule is: jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today!”
How long can one person remain sane with the constant tug and pull of needs and demands in all directions? How do you decide who and when to push back? It is never easy to scream, “Enough is enough!”
I try to do this now and then, but as an introvert it often means my friends and family bear the brunt as the needs I am most comfortable pushing back on and asking to just leave me alone. But is that really fair? Friends and family are the ones you should be taking time out of your day to appreciate and enjoy, no matter what they need. No matter how worn down you are.
It is wearing, life. Rewarding always, but wearing, too. My fall resolution is to be more selfish. I shall plan meetings that allow me to step away from my desk and walk ten minutes in the sun. I shall not work overtime at the expense of my friends and family. To those who treat me as some unfathomable creature for still grieving, still mourning, I shall not apologize. My grief does not disappear for anyone’s convenience, least of all mine, but that is an honor and a prize that I shall not relinquish.
I don’t mean to neglect others, but to best enjoy others, I must first enjoy myself. If overwhelmed, exhausted and cranky, I shall only run the risk of dragging those I love into the mire and morass of that muddy torment of sticky need and clinging requirement. Once I extract myself, clean up and rest, then I can better distinguish where I can take pleasure in helping and where I must for the sake of work.
How many people across the years have you promised this to without really meaning it? How many have you meant it and, with the best of intentions, really truly intended to maintain contact with? How many did you actually attempt it with, but got busy, meant to respond, definitely intended when you had time, paper, stamps, time, internet, nobody hovering, time?
I have gone so far as to maintain pen pals up to a year, two years, but then it dies down. I know I’m to blame and there’s always guilt, however, I don’t get better about it. I don’t suddenly make the time or really put in the effort. Sometimes it’s not a lack of caring, I’m just truly bad that way. There are no bread and butter notes, I suck at thank you notes. I don’t argue that these niceties are unimportant, there just always seems to be so much more that is immediate and urgent.
And after time, my embarrassment and guilt lead me to procrastination, avoidance, and depressed attempts to put it right. I write out one or two or three feeble attempts of excuse and apology, but then put those aside. My parents taught me that excuses never matter. Only the action or lack of action does. So the attempt is deleted as a sniveling, weak attempt at connection and communication. That needs a pause to cleanse myself of such thoughts and feelings.
And now communication with that cherished person who I really don’t want to lose has become a chore and it’s my own fault! Doubt sets in. Uncertainty that I should even saddle this wonderful person with my inconsiderate, self-absorbed failure at maintaining contact. They surely have more important, more satisfying, more responsive people to cultivate a distant relationship with.
And so I let another friendship, treasured and valued, but distant die. There is no one fault or flaw in my basic personality, but numerous little ones. Taken alone, they are nothing. Working together, they are a nigh insurmountable height of epic proportions. My own mountain formed out of minimal little bumps.
Case in point: I started this post a week ago, fueled by my Tensor’s mother sending me wonderful pictures and I found myself stymied. So many things I wished to express and so much gratitude. An uncomfortable amount, mingled with sorrow and pain that I had no desire to inflict. So I delayed my response, hoping to gain control of my emotions. And delayed and delayed. And delayed my post to you, dear reader.
Fortunately, she contacted me about something else so I was able to respond promptly to that. And in doing so, decided to finish the post as well.
Pictures. I have very few pictures of myself from when I was younger. I always hated having my picture taken.
Sometimes I wonder, if there are no witnesses, if there is no record, how many of the strange and unusual things I experienced are nothing more than my own flights of fancy? Why didn’t I document these things and why do I neglect to do so now? Do I have something deep inside of me that urges me to leave no footprint, to remain someone undocumented? Or is this a sort of hubris instead; expecting to be so memorable that such trifling mementos are worthless and a shadow of my true impact? No, I suspect it’s none of these. It is the result of disliking my own appearance and never living up in the flat image to my mind’s eye of my personality.
When I die, will that mean there will be fewer memories for people to draw from or share? My tensor’s mother sent me some photos from ten years ago. He would have been 15, 16. He was young, obviously; gangling, not yet grown into himself. Not yet quite so self-assured and independent. Happy, though. It was a he I never met, but caught glimpses of in the man he became. I treasure these images shared with me. These memories that are not mine, but that augment mine. I miss him.
If I die, what memories will there be left to share?
A recent conversation went along the following lines:
Me: Do you have a favorite word?
Friend 1: No.
Friend 1: Yes, no.
Me: No, as in the word or no, you have no favorite?
Friend 1: Yes.
Me: That’s a horrible word!
Friend 2: I like scum.
Friend 1: No scum!
Friend 2: It’s a noun, an adjective, a verb. Scum is really versatile.
Friend 1: Especially on your shower door.
Me: Well, that’s better, I guess. I was thinking along the lines of syzygy. It’s unusual, with wonderful meaning and even design, with the only vowels “y”
Friend 1: No!
Friend 2: It’s not a palindrome like scum.
Me: I don’t think palindrome means what you think it means.
Friend 1: Mirror image words.
Friend 2: Sure. That’s scum.
Friend 1: See! There’s a reason it’s my favorite.
I tried to send them back, but the store doesn’t permit exchange or refund on friends. All sales are final.
Outside, it’s hot. Hotter than summer has been and muggy. The humidity joins with the heat to create a fog of sweat – causing sticky sauna fumes that moisten your clothing and stick to your skin. You expect this sort of sweltering miasma in the middle of July or the dog days of August. Sirius didn’t get the memo, though and has moved his blitz to September.
In the meantime, the office is so cool that there’s condensation running down the glass of the building like you’re walking into a giant glass of lemonade. In fact, the stickiness from outside lingers and crusts, drying upon your skin in the chill. To exacerbate this, my desk is directly under the air conditioning vent. I sit here shivering with my dried sweat flaking and I can feel my vocal chords tightening, my voice growing huskier and hoarse while the post nasal drip becomes my new coworker, peering over my shoulder and irritating while I try to work.
This is the weather that finds it easiest to make people sick. Schools spread new germs, but add to that the summer sickness from temperature extremes lurking to capitalize on weakened immune system. For someone like me in remission with an autoimmune disorder, it’s a woeful threat impending!
Let autumn find its way here soon!