Ann E. Michael writes about practice. She’s been writing since she was 10, and though she’s lost the pages, she has the memories. Sometimes I wonder if all these gaps in my life – the seasons lost from memory – have been lost exactly because I didn’t take the time to write them into being….
Or what I find in the forest; I’ve been trying to speak for myself only. The pine smelled so sweet and sharp this morning. Somewhere near my solar plexus I felt a heaviness like guilt. I know it must smell this pronounced because the trees have been freshly cut. It’s not the smell of death…
I feel ridiculously self-conscious talking about writer’s block. I am one of those people who believes that all present tense descriptors only relate to the moment as it passes: not the future. And that the past is “history” and not something one can cling to in the present. Though I know we all do that…
“I want to be such a conversation”… is what Neil Reid said about what can become of us when we witness someone else’s examination of the world (which includes one’s self), and then take those questions into our own examination of our own world. And if one takes note of that process – could there…
A few days later someone got the idea that we all had to do it again so we could take a picture from space. I remember this because I wrote about it in a poem about 9/11. The aspect of the (meta-) performativity of our “Humanity”.
I’ve hiked for days once before. And I stopped caring whether my socks matched. I stopped looking at every hill as something to be gauged and conquered. I put one foot in front of the other and kept an eye out for grouse in heather.
What we leave behind us after a long journey is one thing, what we take with us is also important.
After a glass of wine, my inner critic no longer tells me I need to get the answers right.
After a glass of wine, she actually sounds a lot like Dorothy Parker – ’cause when she’s tipsy she sides with me, and turns on everyone else.
I guess things don’t always come as cleanly as the seasons on the calendar. The goddesses keep their own schedules. Rhythms. Deliberately syncopated.
I feel as though I have fallen into a post-Absurdist rabbit hole of inclusion addiction. The thought of being irrelevant and untethered in this international, intercultural, intergenerational buzz of avatars is terrifying.
I have been walking so softly – for almost half my life now – that I am a brittle presence in the world. So obsessed with belonging, with not belonging, that I’ve sprouted protection. “Don’t touch me.” All the while sending little coded messages into the world, in the form of poems. In books that no one can find. I have competing desires. (If fear isn’t a form of desire, self-protection is.)
For some reason I just had a thought about my mother telling me she used to rehearse for her mother’s death. That’s a pretty messed-up way to go through life, isn’t it?
I think I inherited that practice. I rehearse for the worse. I don’t trust my resilience. Although in this case, it means that I’ve started a new one: a new play.
I’m taking a break from social media, and I’ve removed all the news apps from my phone, save the New York Times and NRK. I get up at 5 and do yoga and meditation before I check the news. I figure, if the world is ending, I will have squeezed another peaceful half-hour of life before it does. I’m not saying ignorance is bliss, but why forfeit all that is good?
Sometimes – just sometimes – I envy young people their hubris. The more we know, the more we know we do not know. How to marry that knowledge with daring? Socrates did it, right?
They say he was a jerk.
I’ve seen my dog summon puppy-like energy to chase a toy rat – just until she gets her teeth on the edge of it. Then she realizes it isn’t interesting at all, and she goes back, circles a little square foot of floor, and lies down again. Disappointed. I think, not as much in regards to her expectations, but in regard to suckering herself into expectations. She knows it tastes like cardboard and plastic. Not rat.
Isn’t there a culture that conceptualizes the future as something that comes at us from behind to overtake us? Maybe they are the only ones to have it right. All this planning, all the mirages we see ahead of us. The clump of earth that should be frozen, but that rushes suddenly from behind to slip into the present, under your foot, in the form of soft and giving mud. And there you have it: the irretraceable moment that is a wet sock.
This is a season of quiet. I want to retreat to a cabin in the valley for a few weeks. I want to pull away, and observe. Morning runs through the rustling, frozen underbrush.
Not to be talked to. Talked at. Fixed.
I want to reemerge into a world of details that have worked out their individual spats, sighed with relief, and gotten on with it all.
Without my well-intentioned interference.
I wrote last time about banging pots and pans and getting ready for Christmas. I haven’t done that. I guess by now, from the tone of this letter, that is pretty obvious. I did pull out the Pete Seeger Christmas CD set. And as I typed that sentence, as though he’d read my mind, E. lit the candles here on the table. Now he is eating a cookie. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. He is definitely not reading my mind now. Marriage. It is all about balance, isn’t it?
As I type this, I think about a conversation I had yesterday with a student who is struggling with the same thing. I talked to her about recognizing when to push back at the world, and when to relax, gather strength; and to never beat oneself up for not being perfect. Now my own advice comes back to me with a wink. This seems to happen a lot. This kind of synchronicity can either strike me in completely narcissistic terms – believing everything in the universe is designed to be a personal message for me – or it can open me to the fact that I am in no way unique, and that I’m completely blind in terms of my own weaknesses… and wisdoms. I’m ashamed to say I often have to remind myself of the latter.