only thing missin’ is the bonbons
or maybe it’s the big ol’ cupcake under a blizzard of coconut flakes and goopiest buttercream updrafts.
or, given that it’s me, me doin’ the whoopin’ and hollerin’ over here, me with my feets up on the old pine table where i sit, dawn after dawn, typing my heart out, maybe it’s just a big, juicy, certified-organic, pink lady pomme plucked from the boughs of some generous orchard.
i’ve always been lacking in the sugar department. but not in the savoring department. no, sirreebob, i am savoring the heck out of this day, and the hours that preceded it. the hours when all i heard from my soul, and my very sore fingertips, was one giant “phew!”
we did it.
we set out–me and the soul and the fingers–to see where we’d get if we were dropped, one distant december, in the snowiest woods. if we stayed there for a year, groped around, poked under leaves, sat by a babbling brook. looked skyward. counted moonbeams and twinkling stars.
some days, i swear, my ol’ boots, the ones i wear when i’m hiking, meandering about in the woods, they felt like 100-pound weights on each foots.
more often, though, i was barefoot and running through meadows. i was catching a glimpse of the butterfly wing. feeling the gentle fingers of God on my shoulder. hearing the sound of my heart thumping, and thumping some more.
i only kept doing the smartest thing i know if what you want is to get from place A to place Somewhere: i put one foot in front of the other. kept my eyes mighty peeled. my heart too.
and look, here, where we are.
we made it through the woods, all right. but the thing is, along the way, i found a something in the woods that fills my lungs, that makes my blood run quick. that gives me something to think mighty hard about.
i’m thinkin’ maybe the woods is a beautiful place, a place that offers me and my soul just what we need.
now i might be living off berries and tree bark if i do nothing but wander the woods, but heck, you never know who might come along, leave crumbs in the trail, for you and the bluebird to share.
what i mean in plain english (which i actually can dip into on occasion–when pressed, only when pressed) is this: ol’ pull up a chair ain’t goin’ anywhere.
(i said plain english, people, not proper. and for that grammatical sin i do beg forgiveness. mea culpa, as charged.)
now i do think i’ll take a few days off. see what it’s like to look at the world without rushing to capture a picture. pound out some thoughts. heck, my little one now routinely asks me, “is this for the blog?” whenever i pull out the camera. or ask him a question in what apparently is my decidedly transparent this-might-be-for-the-chair questioning style.
imagine the therapy bills: “well, you see, my mother, she scribbled whatever i said. she rushed to this box on her desk and she wrote and she wrote. it was odd, doctor. i barely could keep even a secret.”
ah, such is the trial of growing up in a house where the mother is watching every last move. where the mother is always mining for meaning. where a chicken breast, for crying out loud, can never just be a white lump of meat. it might be a symbol. a metaphor, even.
did i ever tell you that i might be the only mother of a 6-year-old who struggled to read but displayed three years ago his fluency in the fine art of making a metaphor? (his big brother was three when he nailed the concept–and pronunciation–of “facetious,” as in the state of being with tongue deeply embedded in cheek.)
oh, forgive me, it’s just that i’m giddy today.
see, there were spells there where i did not think i would make it. where i thought the words, like a well, might not come, might dry up completely. where the waking up with the earliest bird was getting, well, thin.
but there was something here in the room with the screen all aglow. there is something about waking up, fresh to the day, and cobbling thought as you type.
as a writer, the exercise was breathtaking. i’ve heard forever and ever of the power of daily practice. i’d never quite done it before. not with the sharp edge of knowing the minute i hit the little gray button, the one that says “publish,” my thoughts–and more than a little bit of my self, really–were headed out onto the internet highway, where any old soul could pull up and peek into the windows.
it is a wholly different thing than scribbling into a journal. and way more exposed than writing that’s allowed in a newspaper.
quickly, though, i found that the street i was on ran two ways: pull up a chair gave form to my life, and my life gave form to the chair. over time, threads turned into truths, and outlines grew clearer, and what i believe is more deeply held.
and not only that.
the dailiness of the exercise was, actually, supreme. i lived, for the year, with a built-in alarm, or maybe a sensor. when i was struck in a particular way. when something took my breath. or made me gulp. when a wisp of a something whipped itself up in a frenzy. i knew then i had something i’d ponder and put on the chair.
i am convinced that if i hadn’t had the black gaping hole to fill, day after day, with something that mattered, i might have lost some of the moments that, surprised me, amounted to something.
what i wrote here was rather unedited. it was raw. and while that might make for a pulsing sense that i was saying too much, i was amazed time and again at the thoughts how they came, how they fell on the screen. i was tapping into a place that needn’t be filtered. i was not trying to get anywhere most of the time, just watching the river meander, going with the proverbial flow. believing always that, somehow, through voodoo maybe or just crossing my fingers, it would make a point, reveal a truth, be wiser than i was, that’s for sure.
true writing can do that.
i put faith in the process.
and here we are. one whole year later.
and where, now, do we go? for we are a we now. it’s not just me, never was. we are a table with chairs. and many, many legs.
i am thinking i’ll write as inspired. i could pick a particular schedule, but then what if i’m hit in the head–or the heart–with a moment i simply must write.
on the other hand, i don’t want to lose the magic that comes with a disciplined practice, the bubbling to the surface born of the drive to meet deadlines.
i might now be more inclined to drop morsels that aren’t purely essays. i might use the table in ways more informal (not that i ever felt the urge for a tux or long ropes of pearls).
say, for instance, a snippet of overheard conversation. a cake you must try (or given, again, that it’s me, an eggplant terrine). or news about birds.
and at least once a week, i promise, a plain old meander. just like we’re used to.
fact of the matter is, there are blogs and writings a brewin’. my blessed friend true is up and she’s runnin’. check her out, from down on the farm, where you’ll swoon. slj is stirring her everyday soup, and soon as it’s ready, i’ll give you a holler. tell you, soup’s on, come grab your spoon. my wise friend, and occasional visitor here, sosser, is making art of the scraps and the bits that she finds in her life.
and as other fine writers give birth to places to write, i swear on a tall stack of bibles, i’ll point you to all of their babies.
as for here at the chair, you tell me what you’d wish for, or what your sweet heart desires.
i see no reason to leave these fine woods. there is much, after all, to catch our attention.
the earth, as it spins, keeps revealing. and if we keep watch, perk our ears, open wide the souls we were given, surely, we’ll catch a few rainbows, maybe a snowflake there on our tongue. certainly we’ll spot the flash of the red bird, flitting to high in the fir trees.
and through it all, in whispers that can’t be denied, the soft breath of the holy divine, with a promise to fill up our lungs. and give us a reason for wandering, wondering, in the woods in the first place.
before i go, then, only this: bless you and thank you for holding my hand here in the sweet piney thicket.
now, tell me your vision, if you have one, of where in these woods we should go, and which way maybe to walk. would you like a regularly scheduled meander, or is whimsy the way to go here?
oh, and if there’s a cupcake lying around at your house, be sure to tuck in a candle, light it, and make a big wish. you and me, we made it together. happy year, chair. now could someone please pass me more coffee?
i’ll be back here in a few days, maybe a whole week. i’ll just stretch out my striped-stocking legs up on the desk, wiggle my fingers, get circulation back to the tips. so feel free to leave your thoughts. i’ll be by to soak ‘em all up.
geez, i can’t imagine not waking up to type my heart out. don’t be surprised if i’m back sooner than i think.