WE NEVER KNOW about our words, sometimes carefully spun, sometimes shaken like dirt from the rugs, sometimes just gushing unbidden...we just never know to whom they will whisper...or even clang like a tinny old farm bell...off key and making a ruckus. We do know that kept in the notebook or the file, unshared, they reach no one, save the chance reader. And so while the writer’s job is to write, I believe it also has a “flinging” component in the description. This page is about the flinging part of my job and I do it knowing some flung words will fly on their own, some will need a kite string and tails while others won’t be flyers at all. They will do as flung non-flyers do. They will clunk. But they all work in some way and it takes readers for that to happen.
Beginnings are daunting for me even now when I know there’s no REASON to be spooked. Perhaps it’s because being worried or fearful isn’t often about reason. It really has little to do with what we used to call “headwork” and a lot more to do with old habits of heartwork. Habitual responses and old stories come to the fore when the road ahead is unfamiliar or hidden.
Lately, my approach has been to stop, listen, and look back to see what’s following me in that peddler’s pack I pick up each morning and hoist to my back.
Last spring when I stopped to take a look, I found one of my favorite forms while looking at endings and beginnings. A circle.
Of course it had been there all along, but now I noticed and wondered what it would take to use it as a base for a spiral, because I was on my way up to something very new and the climb felt arduous. Perhaps I could spiral upward and the climb would be more fun. So I wrote about endings and beginnings and liked it well enough to begin this adventure with parts of that piece. It went about like this:
WITH PASSING YEARS, I find endings and beginnings all blur together. The first really big sudden ending came when John Paul died. There had been deaths before that, but I'd been spared the wrenching away of someone near and dear...someone who was heart of my heart.
I felt I had so much to learn and no time to learn it. Why, if this happened to everyone in some way, had I never heard the how of it discussed? My assumption then was that I was just supposed to know and I did what I'd always done. I put feelings away and turned to work at hand -- regular life and two young ones to raise. I came to know later what an ineffective way that was to deal with such an ending. Untangling the mess of strings in my life and soul from that awful severing took more than a while.
Processes to bring head and heart into some sort of compliance with a single direction were necessary and necessarily fragmented. To put it mildly. It was hard to take joy in the growth years. But I have always been for the most part a starter, a mover of all things forward, and something of a cockeyed optimist.
Putting one foot ahead of the other on so many fronts led to seeing that endings big and small signaled beginnings. Always. It was as if life's driving force was making an old fashioned-hand signal, arm waving wildly in the dusk, hoping you'd get the message:
Sharp turn ahead. Pay attention.
And I have. For me now, feelings are no less intense, but easier to manage. All change requires loss and losses of all sizes and shapes will show somewhere on the spectrometer of feeling. No loss goes unnoticed. But the terror of not knowing if I could survive is no longer there. I know I can move through the pain and it will not kill me and the only way out is through it. The process will take as long as it takes. I get no say in that, but I can watch for hopeful signs -- a tiny flicker of joy, a moment of looking ahead, an hour of easier sleep.
And more than hope, I can Know for certain that the loss, with all else it has done, has opened a space, nudged apart the soil to welcome a seed...a beginning.
Because that's what endings do.