Monday, August 30, 2010

Wishing the Writer's Life on my Worst Enemy

Last night Chris and I were going through old boxes in our garage when we came across some files that were dusty and yellow with age. Mine mostly held randomly saved quotes and class notes, while Chris' were how-to's for our dream kitchen and manuals for long-lost blenders. Soon we were telling each other about our finds. At one point he held up a worn piece of paper and said, "According to this numerology report, I should get into writing. I have always liked to write . . ."
"Hmm," I answered. I didn't look up. I was too surprised by the fact that my heart just sank. But why? Was I afraid he might be a more successful writer than I? No, that wasn't it. I sat back as he continued to shuffle through the stack of paperwork that represented who he used to be.
Finally I told him with a sigh, "I wouldn't wish the writer's life on my worst enemy, Chris. Least of all you."
"Oh, okay. Hey, look at this Far Side joke." He had clearly moved on, but that little interplay got me thinking. Writing is a really tough thing to love. These days, when I sit down to write, I feel like I'm either halfway across the Sahara with an empty canteen, or in the middle of the Pacific and sharks are circling my canoe. I can't decide which scenario fits any more than I can decide what I should be writing.
I looked through the quotes in my file, and two of them were of particular help with my current writing quandary. Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, "The point is, to have everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." C. G. Jung wrote, "The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insolvable. They can never be solved, but only outgrown."
So although I am still unsure of my next step, for Rilke I will remain confident that I can live into what is mine to write. For Jung I will simply trust that eventually I will rise above the problems I face now. And for Chris, I'll just hope he doesn't find that numerology report again. I hid it in the attic.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our Marriage

Today Chris and I finally took an axe to Our Marriage. It had to be done, but it was a scary step, and now that it's over, I feel much better. Our Marriage had grown out of control, literally bursting out of its container, exposing its roots to such a degree that we were worried about its survival.
Oh! I'm sorry, did you think I was talking about our marriage? No, no. I'm talking about a plant -- a lady palm we received on our wedding day fifteen years ago. At first we ignored it, which is probably a wise thing to do to a marriage. Five years later, when we moved to the house we live in now, we transferred the plant to a bigger container and left it to its own devices on the driveway, where it silently grew bigger and bigger over the years. We started calling it Our Marriage and were happy that it was a healthy home to a family of lizards and a welcome sight when we came home every day.
After a while it started bothering me that the plant's job was to hide the trash can, so we potted it up again and moved it to a special place beside the park bench that sits under our oak tree in the front yard. The plant continued to thrive, but maybe more than we expected, because on yard day not long ago, we noticed the palm had split its container, exposing a huge root ball that really needed more room to grow. The problem was that Our Marriage was in the biggest pot we could buy at Lowes. Alas, there was only one thing to do.
Chris freed the plant from its pot and started hacking away at the root ball. We planted half of the palm in the ground in its honored place by the park bench, and the other half we put in another large pot. We watered the two halves of Our Marriage and set the new pot in the back yard. We will have to leave half of Our Marriage here when the time comes to move from this house, but we hope that the new pot will grow strong and travel with us.
Chris and I are watching to see how Our Marriage will stand up to the axe's work, but not too closely. We know that plants are unpredictable, just as marriages are. We will try to enjoy each day that the lizards jump from the palm's frond-like leaves as we sit beside it on our park bench under the oak tree, grateful that Our Marriage is surviving the axe of time.