I actually had five days at home last week, so I was able to have a prompt from Paul every day, and I had time to concentrate on each prompt. My words this week were: family, snap, gel, memory, and cloud.
I wrote about different family members in my blog on “family ties” last week. I left myself out because after sixty-nine years, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in this beautiful family of mine. I notice how I wander from group to group, like a piece of driftwood being moved along by the current. I sit in one place for a while, and then I get up and move on to the next place. I don’t usually light in one spot for long because I’m always trying to find a group or a place where I can fit in. Most of my family members do fit together, and they can converse with each other for hours. I’m the person who walks the periphery, looking and listening, but not feeling like I belong in any one group.
I have a sense that I’m loved by my family, and that they’d probably like to include me, but my being alone is not about them. It’s about me and the loneliness I’ve felt for most of my life. Even as a child, I felt like an alien invader who fell into this big, loving family. I was included in, and took part in almost all of our many family functions, but, I seldom felt like I belonged.
I’m not complaining, nor do I have any negative feelings about any of this. It’s just the way it is, and though I sometimes feel sadness around the issue, I’ve accepted and embraced that it’s part of my journey. I’m aware of how many people experience a deep sense of being alone in the middle of a crowd, so my experience is not unique.
I just finished reading “Bone Black” by Bell Hooks, and as I read of her sadness and loneliness in her childhood, I wondered what kept her from snapping apart. The more I read, I soon realized, that perhaps unknown to her child mind, she was driven by her lifes’ purpose. Though ostracized and totally misunderstood, she endured. Her family missed knowing who she was because they were not able to accept her uniqueness. She was an avid reader, a deep thinker, and she saw what they could not see. They kept telling her to snap out of her thought processes and her way of being, or she’d go crazy.
As I pondered on her words, I wondered, “How does a person snap out of being who they are?” Perhaps, one of the greatest weaknesses of humankind, is our inability to appreciate the differences in others. It seems, for the majority, we’d rather people be who we think they should be, instead of allowing others the freedom to be true to their soul. If we snap out of what may look like insanity to others, and give up our unique purpose for being here, how do we maintain a deep sense of peace within?
Last Tuesday, I saw clearly, that I’m definitely involved in doing my life’s work. On Monday, I picked up ” Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke. In his first letter Rilke writes,” Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write?” Later in the same letter, he wrote,” Therefore, my dear sir, I know no advice for you save this: to go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create.”
My answer is: yes, I must write. Whenever I’m disturbed, happy, sorrowful, or perplexed, I grab my journal. I write my angst and bewilderment, my questions and answers, and insights. I pour my dreams, my hopes and longings, and my disappointments out onto the page. Everything about my life gets written in my journals. My journal is my best friend, and I tell it everything. It holds my secrets, my shame and embarrassment, my joys and my high times. I’d be lost without my journal. If I’m away from home and I have a thought or a question, I grab a napkin or any piece of paper I can find to get my words written down.
I’ve struggled with my declaration that I’m a writer because I do not have an English or Literature degree. I splice my commas, split infinitives, and overuse and misuse perfect progressive tenses. I forget a word I want to use, and among my many grammatical errors, I confuse the use of that and which, and who. But, with all of that being said, what I do, is take great pains to put on paper my sincerest truth and reality. I am not polished, but my words flow from my spirit and therefore, I must continue to declare, I AM A WRITER.
The act of re-membering focuses on going back to the original. This seems like a simple task, however, I’ve come to realize that I have a lot of forgotten or blocked memories. Due to the pain and/or trauma associated with different events in my life, my psyche has somehow chosen to put away, perhaps under lock and key, many of my memories.
Family members will recall a certain event that happened, and I’ll sit there dumbfounded because I have no memory of what they’re talking about. I used to worry about this, but now I just let it be. I trust that I’ll remember everything I need to, at the appointed time and place.
A cloud is a visible mass of fog or haze suspended at a height in the air. Right now, that mass of fog/and or haze is sitting in the middle of my brain. When it comes to technical matters, or anything having to do with my computer, there is a giant, dark cloud in front of the part of my brain that is about understanding and comprehension.
I usually feel like a first grader looking at a trigonometry problem when I’m trying to figure out a program, a command, a webpage, or even simple navigation. The language is foreign to me, and though I read and re-read what is on a particular screen, I just can’t seem to get it. I spent hours yesterday trying to figure out what to do with this message, “To configure the compatibility mode for an application, just locate the installation directory and right-click on the .exe, selecting Properties from the menu.” I highlighted and underlined the word “just” because my first thought is, “what do you mean just?” and my second thought is, “What’s an installation directory and where in the hell do I find it?” I wish it was as simple as “just.”
I’ve decided that two of the best gifts I could receive at this point in my life would be:
1. To have one of my 11-20 year old grandchildren live across the street, or at least in the same town. They have a command of computer language and could probably walk me through any and all difficulty.
2. To have a gift certificate of two hours a week with a computer guru, who would sit by my side, and go through screen after screen with me, until I understand what I”m looking at.
Chances are pretty large that I’ll not receive either of these gifts, so I continue to sit in front of my computer trying to understand what it’s asking me to do. My only bright spot in this computer illiterate cloud I seem to live under is that a few of my women friends, who are my age, are under the same cloud. At least I know I’m not alone.