It would stay with him always as everything you ever did stayed with you. . .always there
like a tangle of telegraph wires in the brain where no dispatch was ever lost,
what an odd thing, an odd thing.
~ Paulette Jiles (from “News of the World”)
A friend came thru the house the other day. A tour of sorts, to show her how special this little house is despite the moonscape of a yard. What I noticed after she’d gone were the small piles of papers here and there. Work papers & lists, coupons, to-be-filed’s, announcements, to-be-mailed’s, weeks of weeklies saved for articles, you name it. Across the counter in the laundry room, on the edge of the table in the kitchen. One side of my desk covered and short stacks on every flat surface in the office from chair bottoms to small tables.
I also noticed the 3 dirty screens & windows I intended to clean when I moved in.
I started in on it that day. I cleared and filed papers. Ripped the articles from the fat weeklies. It didn’t take long. Then I wrote a poem about it.
The next day I cleaned screens & windows. The day following I went thru a box in the garage, pulled out a few items and taped the box up, perhaps forever. I carried books to a friend as I’d intended for weeks, and threw out empty herb bottles on my desk kept as reorder reminders, and placed the order.
It’d happened so fast. This shift in how I saw things. In fact, the side of my desk is already covered again. That fast. What got me was how I’d looked past so much and left little tidies undone. I keep a neat house. My external environment affects my insides. Something had reversed. My outsides reflecting my insides. Because I’d been down for weeks, in the middle of loving my life. It’s felt like 300 pages of a manuscript flung in the air, the papers jumbled and fanned at my feet, out of order. Perhaps this is what it eventually feels like when you step onto a completely new road. A sort of catch-up.
I choose to put those pages in order. Is that possible? And which order is the question.
Writing this, I understand my shift back into awareness started a while ago. The insight about my mother’s messages to me a huge one.
Author Paulette Jiles was asked who she wrote her National Book Award finalist novel “News of the World” for. ‘I wrote it for myself,” she said. ‘I like re-reading my own work. Especially when I’m traveling. Typos seem to self-generate and it makes me happy to catch a few more.’
Her answer made me laugh out loud with It’s not just me! “The Writer’s Block Myth” launched with unforgivable typos in the Table of Contents and an 18pt. bold chapter heading. After three passes by a line editor, a dozen by me, + readers. I couldn’t let them pass. Then, someone who knows told me first production copies were coveted just for this reason. Ack. I still couldn’t rest with it. And now, tho I still don’t like them, I don’t look at typos the same way, anymore.
One afternoon, I pulled in where I was giving a mini-workshop. A row of red cars almost the only cars in the lot. Red. No white or gray. A clear first ever in my life.
I joined the line. (mine is the wagon, 4th up). Two people sat in their red car while I took this shot. Even offered to move their car if it’d make a better picture. We laughed at the rarity.
Another day, sparkly little boy, my grandson in Taiwan, said in the middle of our chat, ‘This may scare you, and maybe not. We’ve been talking 25 min.’ Effortless time. Nope, didn’t scare me. And for him to say that, it must’ve startled him. His perception of time shifted.
On a drive thru open countryside, a friend and I stopped high in the mountains at White Rock, a town above Los Alamos where they developed the first nuclear bombs. At the overlook, we gazed down on the Rio Grande, how it snakes for miles thru the mountains. ‘It’s hard to tell just how wide and deep the river is from up here,’ she said. ‘Look at those rapids. I’d avoid them.’
Another morning the convergence of rock stars and gospel choir brought me to tears. Pure Gospel.
Think of this. . .I walk past bushes covered in roses higher than my head. They’re everywhere here. Those delicate petals we tend and baby in the lowlands thrive in the desert!
All of these reminders to shift perspective. Ways of seeing differently everywhere everyday when we stop, notice, and consider.
Last month someone asked what the heart of my teaching is. What is the craft of your teach, is the way she put it. I told her: There is more than one way to look at things. Our history, wounds, beliefs, desires, and intents affect how we see things. As does the messages we’ve heard, how our brains apply data, and the condition of our hearts. Our triggers, energy, control, and teachableness are affected. And we have a choice.
That was my answer. And these past weeks I got it for myself.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
Tell me. . .has the way you see some things changed or shifted lately? Tell me about it.
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