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.

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