I was going to say, "How is October halfway over?" but I hate reading things that start that way, so I'll spare you. It's like reading an email or, back in the Days of Yore, a letter that's mostly excuses for not having written in so long. I get it: you've been busy. Let's move on.
Here's a random photo from last summer. It's a puddle, made by rain, in our driveway.
|driveway puddle, 2020|
Perhaps this choice of photo isn't so random. I'm still thinking a LOT about rain, and how we have less this year than in recent years, and how that makes the well really slow. I'm still monitoring its output and the other info we're learning about it. And yet: I still feel mostly prepped for winter.
Meanwhile, I'm also wondering when I'll feel that the "well revamp, September 2021" life episode is over.
And mostly, I'm (still, always) thinking about when a pandemic is over. How will I know--beyond numbers and thresholds and vaccination rates and test/trace efforts and safety precautions--how will I KNOW, in the deepest sense of knowing?
My book, REVERBERATIONS: A DAUGHTER'S MEDITATIONS ON ALZHEIMER'S has been out two years this season. Does that mean it's "over"?
That last question was a rhetorical device. The answer: no. This past weekend a writer I respect and have "met" via social media made the effort to send a message of appreciation that warmed my heart all over again.
Even if, someday, my book goes out of print (which might be kind of difficult in today's print-on-demand supply chain, maybe?), it's got a presence out there. As people who have read it die (cheerful thought), that presence will fade with them, which is OK too.
In any case, I'm actively working on other writing projects. As they come to fruition, they'll serve as "after" markers.
I'm currently taking time to ask questions like, "Who was I 'before'? What did I find entertaining, challenging, illuminating?"
A not-insignificant part of those questions is "before what?" Because the past five years have held, both gently and not-so-gently, a LOT.
I want to retain a lot of what I've learned and done and seen and spoken of. And I want to let go of some of those things--habits of mind included. I don't need to hold them anymore. (I'm actually ignoring morning news--I once felt I needed to know what had "exploded" overnight so could get through the day without that sense of impending doom. Get it over with early. Like that.)
So it's a good time of year to be looking in puddles--what's real, what's reflection, where's your focus?
I'm also looking at trees: the birches held their gloriously golden leaves, and then we had a huge windstorm over the Thanksgiving weekend, and the birches let go. I looked at "big picture" scenes--gold-and-evergreen vistas that made tears spring to my eyes. And now I'm looking at individual golden leaves, and small piles of them, as I scuff along our paths. Little pictures, little daily experiences.
Also metaphorically. What am I holding? What can I let go of? What can I pick up from "before," however I choose to define that? And what new things can I welcome into my life?
They don't have to be huge things, either. For example, I recently renewed my subscription to Slightly Foxed, a UK-based magazine for readers. I'd known of its existence before the pandemic but subscribed as part of an effort to support what I enjoy. And it's really fun--an interesting quarterly and a free podcast, and very tempting books and notebooks.
It may not be your type of thing at all, but it's well worth asking, what is?