The plan for today was to do some writing. I got up early, made myself a cup of coffee and soon after I did that my son awoke and came out to the living room. Whatever quiet contemplation I was expecting to find was naught; he had called the Sony Playstation helpline and was on hold for what the automated message suggested would be a minimum of 42 minutes. The phone was set to speaker-phone and after the fifth time the automated voice came back online to assure us that his call hadn’t been forgotten and that he might get more expedient service if he logged onto their website, I’d given up on writing anything substantive, at least for the time being.
I clicked open Facebook and started scrolling through the posts. I opened up my email and discovered some real emails in there, waiting to be read. One broke my heart a little bit to read. The letter made an attempt to sound encouraging and loving but ended up sounding condescending. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t receive a holiday card along with the delivery of my son’s, reduced me into a quietly tearing mess.
During this time my son had fallen asleep on the couch; 48 minutes into the hold time I noticed that the automated message had fallen silent. I went over to investigate and saw that his call had disconnected, perhaps because the person on the other end had picked up and heard no response. I woke him to check in on him, to see whether he had been able to get assistance to his quandary during my little bout of self-pity. He hadn’t, so he went back on the phone again, was once again put on hold (this time for what would be a minimum of 1 hour, the automated voice said).
By this time his girlfriend had awakened and shuffled out to join him on the couch. They cuddled up and a short while later she proclaimed that she was going to take a shower, waiting for him to say that he would join her. Instead he insisted on waiting for the call to be answered, so she showered alone. There was time for her to shower, dress and for her grandma to arrive – still he was on hold. After a few more minutes he decided that he would leave it for another time. They then prepared to leave to go scour the malls for a third day in a row.
I settled in to a second cup of coffee, and a few chocolate cherry cookies, to write an email to a friend, the only friend with whom I’ve shared just about everything about my life. I sometimes feel guilty about sharing so much; I worry about it being TMI and burdensome, but this friend never complains.
Our history is long and complicated. We aren’t even supposed to still be friends but we manage to keep in touch anyway. Advice from this friend has been the only kind to be both encouraging and gently chiding enough for me to be able to digest without any bitterness. They are perhaps the only person in the long history of my life -ever- to not have even unintentionally hurt me with their words. It is quite miraculous, actually. In so many ways I regard this person to be my muse – (unknowingly) eliciting more graceful effort when I write, pressing me to aspire to aim higher in the crafting of my words, than I could ever accomplish merely on my own.
I can summarily admit that my life has been saved, numerous times, by this friend. In all honesty, the keen insight and words of comfort have probably been the only things that have pulled me off of the ledge at some key points during the last several years. There have been some desperate times.
I went to log into my writing program’s online interface and it didn’t recognize my ID and password. I sent a “help me” email and waited for an answer, which came quite quickly, all things considered. I checked the message board, read the posts.
I’d written an email and had sent it off. I’d brewed myself yet another cup of coffee. I’d stared at Facebook enough for the time being, sat back down again (after several more chocolate cherry cookies and a half dozen chocolate brandy beans) to write some more. Here. Now.
All I could do is feel the immense sadness that weighs on my heart. Tears prickle in my eyes. The coffee is strong, bitter yet creamy and sweet.
I don’t understand how I have managed to salvage and make a wreck of my life so many times over. I’m exhausted to think on it – I consider, for a moment, to lay down for a nap.
No. I have this time, this moment, to write, to express – to do the thing that I mostly believe I am here to do. Time is a-wastin’, and I apparently need to get off the pot.
Was I even on a pot? Is it true that I am all intention but no action? Is all of the action simply in my head with nothing to show for it?
Thinking. Doing. I spend so much of my time working these days that the doing of anything else becomes ancillary – a luxury, even though it should perhaps be the focus. I often have to pick between getting adequate rest and the things that I love to do, like writing or making things, or even going for walks on crisp, sunny days.
I haven’t been for a walk along the inlet trail since last summer (2014!) and sometimes I think that I am in such a hurry that I breathe so shallowly that I am just a few breaths away from hyperventilation.
And I really miss knitting. I used to knit things – slowly, but still. I made things. With my hands.
I contemplate on happiness and loneliness, success and the nature of love, failure and fulfillment. I wonder how each of us experiences those things, by themselves or simultaneously. I have witnessed people spectacularly succeed at some things yet seem so terribly lonely and unhappy. I’ve seen a person get a second chance to live after a serious illness and I witness them grind their spirit down to dust by working too much and avoiding connecting deeply with others. Maybe that is just my impression – perhaps I’m reading it all wrong. Somehow I don’t think so, though.
Sometimes I think we have our priorities confused; we worry about procuring a thing in just the right colour but not about how, after watching someone spend hours to craft a meal for us to enjoy, it doesn’t occur to us that it would be kind to help with the washing up so that the cook can get a well-deserved respite.
Perhaps, as the letter I received this morning implies, I’ve failed to instil some of the very basic tools and life skills necessary to provide my child with an adequate inner compass; failed to teach the precepts of politesse, not taught him a genuine desire to be kind and thoughtful toward others – inspired him to be ambitious. I thought I’d modelled these, in part, but perhaps I am mistaken. Despite my efforts, maybe the messages have not hit their mark. Maybe I am still learning them myself. Maybe I’m reading too much into things; somehow I don’ think so, though.
I have always felt that learning is a life-long process, one that encompasses constant change. Perhaps that silly Facebook app was correct, then. Maybe my word for 2016 is “change”. Of the good kind, I hope.