Saturday, August 1, 2009

"What Am I Doing Here?"

July 22, 2009 Authentic Writing Workshop

I'm celebrating! Yes, my new found right to life inspires
me so that I may even do stuff I always found impossibly
taxing -- like practicing the violin.

At dinner this evening at our favorite hang out Jim and I
were playfully interrupted by our neighbor Helen, who is
a free spirit if ever there was one.

She walks around the East Village playing the accordion
and singing songs in French and German. She'll play
whenever invited and even on the sidewalk outside your
window if she so feels moved.

I accidentally referred to this violin I have, which belonged
to my father. I did take lessons years ago, but I started as
a young adult in my twenties and never stayed with it because
life happened and I moved around and away from my teacher.

I found new teachers through the decades but never really
stuck to it. Anyway, Helen got all excited! "Here's my
orchestra!" She exclaimed to anyone who would listen
inside or outside the cafe.

The owner was also hanging out with Helen; they had been
talking. Helen, accordion around her neck, going on about
Jim playing guitar and she the accordion and now I the
violin. "I wouldn't go so far as to say I play," says I. "But
I did do a fair rendition of 'Danny Boy' at one time."

And Helen exclaimed, "That's it, we have a chamber ensemble.
We'll gather out here sometime and play 'Danny Boy!'"

It didn't seem at all absurd to me -- not even one tittle.


July 22, 2009 Authentic Writing Workshop

I thought I knew what it meant, but It turns out I didn't.
I had an addiction to aspiring to what I thought others had--
love, talent, attraction, creativity, a swirling of options
in life choices.

Belonging to the group, the family, the corps, the tribe --
having an identity, a partner, an achievement, a gift, some
radical way of being, I thought, was the way life had

Being really, really good at something provides an identity,
I thought, and gains you recognition to be part of a group
of writers, painters, dancers, singers. Being gifted in these
ways enthralled me more than being a teacher or social
worker or any other care-giving provider -- which I also
aspired to.

The unforeseen happened and everything changed.
Before I knew it, I was sixty years old -- closer to
eighty than to thirty -- even though on some level I feel
like I'm thirty-five or sometimes, due to generally good health,

Where did the time go while I was hoping and wishing and
feeling disappointed and feeling sorry for myself? Where
did the time go while I was eliminating all of my options
finding that everything I tried was out of fear of failing in
the only places I really wanted to succeed?

But the journey has proven fulfilling anyway. I've finally
said Yes to the unthinkable -- to things exactly the way
they are -- and now I belong to the communion of failures.