Contemplation

Growing older is a strange thing. We mark the passing years with a celebration and scrupulously take note of the number of years we have lived. It’s just a number, sure, but I noticed a subtle change as I left behind my 20s and entered into my 30s. There is a new cautiousness to my approach to life, a cementing of routines and views.

To be honest, I dislike this intensely. I have the same desire to see the world as I always did, but it’s tempered by many things. One of them being my daughter. Every move I make, I have her in mind, even if it’s at the back of it. When I’m away from her, I feel an aching void in my heart. The idea of her growing up without me is unbearable. I’m sure every mother feels this way, but it might especially be true for me because of the years we spent, with just the two of us. I am her rock.

So I feel at odds. Some days I can barely breathe, I want to break free so bad. But I can’t. There’s this thing called responsibility. I have a home and husband and job. I have my daily routine, which simultaneously drives me to the brink and comforts me. I mourn the lost chances and the freedom I fleetingly had when younger. I don’t know if it’s a self-inflicted thing, or necessary or what, but the older we get, the more we seem to close the door on adventure and risk and really living life.

Another thing I’ve noticed is the realization that my life is a dust mote. A very unremarkable one. I’m one person among billions. Don’t we all begin life imagining we are destined for great things, even if it’s in the most secret part of ourselves? We will accomplish something. We won’t just live to work. Some people probably do achieve their true potential and live their dream lives but I suspect a lot of us just settle for the bare minimum. Surviving and putting away a little money and occasionally taking a vacation, if we’re lucky.  When did we give up on our aspirations? For me, I dreamed of being a writer. A famous writer, of course. I would travel and write and meet fascinating people and more than just fame, which I don’t really care for when it comes down to it, would be the feeling of satisfaction. Of knowing that I was doing what I wanted to do and living a full life. That’s all I really want. To create, because we must create something to feel complete, and to more than just survive, but thrive. 

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Hey.

So. It’s been awhile. 

Life got hectic and I got de-motivated. 

But I was walking up the steps to Cleveland Community College this evening and the moon was in my favorite phase – just a sliver in a lavender sky – and one bright star hung below it and I felt a nudge towards creativity. So I’m plunking myself down and writing, whether  it’s any good or not.

This morning I had my students read a short story by Raymond Carver (Why Don’t You Dance), about a man who puts out all his household furnishings on the lawn and a boy and girl who come across the tableau and want to buy some of the items. After we had finished reading it, we looked up the words they didn’t know and talked about what the story meant. When we were done, one of my students looked up and said, “Ms. Clark, I really liked this story.”

That one comment inspired hope. To me, if you read, you learn. You grow. You expand your world. Maybe I can’t inspire them, but good literature can. 

So, I will continue to bring stories to the classroom and we will continue to read.

Now, to (reluctantly) take a look back at October. 

Here were my October goals and how I did with them:

– Bike 150 miles. Ha. Nope. Only did about 37 for the entire month. But I have started doing some running and did 3 and a half miles yesterday, which is quite an accomplishment for me.

-read to page 850 in War and Peace. Yeah, kind of bombed this one. The massive tome is collecting dust on my bookshelf. 

-Find a tattoo place. Yes, I have two possibilities in mind. Now to do it….

-Meet with mill owner and write story for potential magazine article. I did in fact meet with the owner of this lovely mill, interviewed him and his wife, and started the story but have not finished it. 

-finish editing book. No. Over half-way through it though!

-Hike at Mount Mitchell. No. Took Nat hiking at South Mountain again though and we hiked all the way to the top.

-Come up with an idea for a short story and at least start writing it. I did do this. But haven’t finished yet. Seems to be a recurring theme…

– park in some small town and walk through it. No.

– Sit in a coffee shop for an hour and write down everything I observe. No.

– read two novels and write a review. I actually read three. All were fantastic. Review coming soon (?)

– blog once a week (or more). Ha. Not even close.

 

 

So there you have it folks. My sad accomplishments for last month. I’m not even going to bother setting goals for November, though I do have some things I want to accomplish. We will see what happens!