I’ve been away from my blog for over 4 years. I haven’t published a book in 8 years. During that time, I’ve watched time slip away as though fine sand through clenched fingers. How can it be 4 years since my last blogging project? How can my last novel have been 8 years ago? But there has been little waste, not in the greater scheme. During those years I was working on other things, inner battles. My life was decimated, and I spent the year rebuilding myself. Yet, I somehow still feel broken at almost fifty years old. I have several friends who are preparing to retire with government pensions and others who, while they won’t retire right away, will be so well off when they do, no financial hardship will be able to touch them.
Here I am, managing a library, trying to pay down bills and putting out a book after 8 years. It feels like an awakening at the same time I’m exhausted. So, why would I blog? Why should I do this? I’m told, to be a writer, I have to do it… I must blog. I will be unable to market myself effectively if I don’t blog. Yet, blogging to generate sales… that feels disingenuous, but they say I have to. Can I do the thing they say I have to do and have it be something more? My writing mission is a bigger thing than selling books, so I must look to that as I begin this blog. How can I help people see into themselves more effectively? How can I fight the tide of disconnection and hatred of ‘the other’ and hatred of the self so many are trapped in? What could I possibly do to fight these forces that seem bent on destroying the world we were just about to create? Do I have a voice strong enough to help? Is there nothing I can do?
In the past, I used to think that I had to blog about something funny, to be witty and quick. I had to turn a phrase and say something that would make people laugh. I’d write posts about Star Trek and novels I didn’t like, but it was all ironic and tongue and cheek, and I just don’t feel like that person anymore. I feel like irony has been bled from me, and I have no desire to do anything but speak from the heart about things that matter deeply to me.
But is this conviction enough to propel me forward with enough force to succeed? I’ve often visualized my writing life as me as a mountaineer on the shoulder of a towering mountain, sometimes sun drenched, other times windswept and cloud-hidden. High above are the achievements I could find, down below are warm, sun stroked valleys where there is less pain, less loneliness. Why would I put myself through this pain of writing? Why is blogging important? Why are novels important? Why did I end up here? Are any of us so sure how we became police or orthodontists or drug addicts or teachers or scientists? Somewhere, deep in my isolated past, books were critical to me. They fascinated me in their form, scent, texture and content. I’d spend hours within their worlds. It was a space the pain of my life would fade, and in that form I thought to myself, could I earn love this way? Could I be worthy of being loved if I could do this as well as these men and women do? You see, I didn’t feel worthy of being loved by anyone, so I had to produce something on a grand scale to find the love I hadn’t had growing up.
A big portion of the last eight years was digging up the lies the wounded adults I had been surrounded by fed into my mind. Like poison they’d imbibed when they were young, they tipped the tincture into my ear like Hamlet’s players, and it blacked my vision of myself. It took the form of pain rooted so deep generations who’d gone before, brought it across the Atlantic from Scotland and England and Germany and Russia, and the bile found its way to settle its shadow among the orchards of Michigan, and in 1973 I was born, and the shadowy bile was fed to me by my parents, my gods at that age. I believed it whole heartedly, and only now, only after looking death in the eye, did I question it so wholly that I saw the writhing beast for what it was, only a shadow, but a shadow that had blotted out the sun.
Now, after coming face to face with that terror death and destruction I once considered evil and now a friend, the shadow has faded and lost much of its hold on me. It comes again on certain days, but most days I feel sincerely worthy of love, just because I am. I’m a good person. So, if I wrote to win love, and now I need nothing to win love… rather, all I need to be loved is to love, then what is left for me in writing? That’s a big question. Why go up on the high peak and seek the summit? What’s up there for me? And… after many years of contemplation… I think I understand it now. I think I see that it’s all about connection. We are sick as a society and growing sicker, and what we need, what would save us is love, connection, kindness, and grace. I look at my life, now that it is likely past half over, and I wonder, what is the fire of my heart burning for? What will be left of me at the end? What purpose will I have fulfilled? Will I have simply consumed and excreted? Or will I have made a difference? Can I make a difference? In that question, I look up to the snow-capped peak again, and I find something in my heart that’s stronger than before. Can we find connection? Can the human race evolve past fear of the ‘other’? Can I play a part in that? The hope these questions stoke in my heart has me lacing my boots and picking up my ice axe.
High above, I see precipitous ridges and heavy cornices. So many ways to fail. But I feel I finally have a purpose strong enough to drive me through the worst days. My need for love always left me when the way got hard, but the desire to play a part in turning society toward a brighter future, I wonder if that will be enough to carry me through.
We’ll see, I think and begin again…