Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Cold Feet and Living the Dream
Every once in a while I get it.
The chatter subsides enough to appreciate the surprise of being alive and wrapped in a thin layer of living tissue that we call skin. It's quite a shock to imagine how it is that the atoms work together to conduct electricity, to adjust chemistry in order to keep us moving, respiring, digesting, shedding, and regenerating. I see the miracle of it, and feel wonder. The wonder is heightened by the fact that this body, this process, this awareness, all if it, is temporary.
In these moments, I know that I only have one chance to work this life into something right, something meaningful, something that will make it easier to let go when the time comes.
Dang, I say.
Of course, that clarity passes, and the scramble to make a living resumes. Somehow it becomes possible to neglect the ongoing improbability of life as I compare my performance to that of others who happen to be made of the same stuff, but are somehow different, and even out to get this roving system called me.
It is hard to remember the dream, in other words, when the going gets thick.
Good thing we have literature to remind us.
The best writing shocks the system, inverts the perspective, turns things inside out, jump starts the imagination.
It wakes us up to the dream we dreamed when we came to visit this sad and beautiful planet.
Poems, stories, and literary essays can cast a spell that undoes the spell of forgetting. They can work magic.
Today I have to think about these dynamics because I am returning to my birthplace to synthesize and share what I have learned in 57 and-a-half years of living.
People are going to pay me to talk about the healing power of writing.
The people planning the Celebration of Creative Writing at Cochise College in Sierra Vista have asked me to come down to conduct workshops over the weekend. They want me to speak, to be on a panel, to talk about the role writing plays in finding meaning in the chaos that life sometimes seems.
I can't believe it.
I feel that I am being called to do what I was born to do.
It has been a long and circuitous road, and I have made many mistakes, forgotten too many times what I came to this planet to do. The quiet, insistent voice that has been talking to me since I can remember has led me to this point.
As I write this, my mother comes to mind. Ever the dutiful son, I remember her and how she pushed me toward this moment. Of course, being the rebellious son, I pushed back and left, slamming the screen door.
But I am back now, older, less proud, less cocksure.
I have been broken and humbled in this life, toiled long days in obscurity. Now I am asked to bring home what I have learned. I am not sure I can do it. I don't completely trust my resolve or my courage. My heart races. It feels like fear, like excitement, like life at its most intense. I want to run. I want to turn it off. I want to embrace it. I feel a rush of panic and want to say I can't do it. It's all a big mistake. I'll call in sick. Or well.
No matter. Curtains up.
Show time. Hope I break a leg or two.