What We Do With Our Lives

… or Leaving D.L.D. 

The 22nd leg of the Camino


Today our wonderful guide lets us know what is coming on this route. No bridges. But many bakeries lining cozy plazas.

We are invited to consider the activities with which we fill our lives. Finance our lives. Fulfill our lives:

And have I not been here before? Contemplating my “usefulness” in imaginary discussions with a long-dead writer?  Sometimes we look into others only to find ourselves. Sometimes we are in love with our own hurt. A twisted Narcissus. Picking at our wounds.

There’ve been times it has bordered on obsession. But only after I’d finished that long correspondence, did I understand that my actions, like hers, were never driven by desire, but fear: a need to feel validated. A need to justify my existence.

How many times have I thought that I needed to go back and study medicine? Become a gardener, a carpenter – someone to be stuck on a desert island with.

And here we are, now: socially distanced. Each of us feeling a bit like an island. And each of us looking at what we valued in the work done by the people in our communities.

The nurses, yes. But the people who wash our desks, drive our buses, put the fresh fruit in the bins.

No one is banging on my door to hear me recite an original epic poem. But I find myself answering a phone call from a student on a Saturday afternoon. Because I want to. Because it is what I do.

Nine times out of ten I say the wrong thing. But I talk a lot, so there is that one time when I say what is needed.

And I know I threw out numbers, but I’m not keeping a tally: “You win some, you lose some.” 

I’ve stopped questioning motives. I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a character in a play. (An unexpected advantage to having aged-out of Hollywood storylines.)

Something has shifted in me. Somewhere along these last years I have lost a lot of need, and desire has flooded into that space. And I hadn’t even noticed.

Maybe every kind of truth, told or achieved, must be approached obliquely?

Tell all the truth but tell it slant  – Emily Dickinson

What do you fill your life with? What do you dare to take?

I do believe I am getting old: It’s not that I’ve lost ambition. I’ve lost fear. And it is wonderful.

I have a round life
and it keeps expanding, like
dough rising for bread.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. neil reid says:

    lovely to follow your trail of bread crumbs here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ren Powell says:

      Thank you so much for leaving a crumb yourself. So nice to know people are reading.
      – edit – how did I not have your poems in my reader?? There now, and looking forward to it.

      Like

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