Mississippi River

 

Mississippi River

The brain is still writing. I mean, like right now. The life in the story is more tangible than the present — a  movie that keeps playing while I sleep, flashing across a screen of vivid dreams.

dog

I’ve made up names for real people, my attempt at hiding identities. I’ve become so used to calling people by their pseudo names, that I have to pause in conversation to remember what their real names are. So sis, if I call you Sarah, just go with it.

dog

I’ll be glad to finish my current edit and take five days off before I return with a fresher brain for another go round. I’ve cut about a hundred and fifty pages from my original draft but need to slice and dice a hundred more. This is the problem with working on a story for too many years — it grows like a fungus.

dog

It feels as if I’m slaying a dragon, which isn’t good because I like dragons. But the writing and editing has that feeling of a life being tested, of showing what I’m made of — the good and the bad.

Something more than a book is being worked on here…

dogwalk-19-6

 

horse and dog
horse in snowstorm

Luke in 2004

I’ve been working on a chapter in my book about a time when I’d been thrown off a horse (not Luke) and broke my collarbone and wrist. I already had the story written and was just going to clean it up and add a couple things, but as I read what I had written, I realized that the story had been about more than I thought when I originally wrote it.

My horse accident happened at a time in my life when I was extremely happy. I had never had so much in my life that was so good. And I had never had so much to lose. I was terrified.

I couldn’t help but hear my childhood voices asking me, “Who do you think you are?”

horse and dog

I’d been raised to not trust anything good that happened because surely I’d screw it up or someone would take it away from me. The worst sin in my childhood home was to take pride in something you did or to believe you actually deserved anything but hard work and suffering.

After the accident, I couldn’t ride the horse that threw me. I dreaded getting on him and he knew it. I tried for a year to get back to where we had been but it was no use, so I sold him.

It took another year to get my confidence back by riding Luke. Not that Luke was perfect. He was four and would rear whenever something freaked him out. But while I couldn’t deal with a horse that intentially tried to dump people, I seemed to have a gift in calming down fear in animals. If only I was as gifted at calming my own worries.

horseback riding

Luke and me in 2003. My painter pants were ever so flattering.

Being around horses was when I felt most myself. And when I felt most myself, I felt okay. It was only when I questioned who I was and what I was doing that I turned into a basket case.

When I rode, the loneliness and the busyness and confusion in my brain all went away. They disappeared in the movement, the speeding up and slowing down, the turns, and the patterns Luke and I traced across the ground.

All my attention was focused on our surroundings, the feel of the ground under hooves, and on each muscle, both Luke’s and mine, doing the job it was supposed to be doing at that instant.

Riding was a series of concentrated, perfectly present moments.

horse and dog

I wanted to figure out how to hold onto those minutes of being so completely present and bring them into the rest of my life. To not feel bad about what I’d done in the past, or angry about what had been done to me, or worried about what I might accomplish or not accomplish in the future, but to just experience and be fully present here and now. I wanted to remember that even the so called bad times, would become memories that I would look back on later. And, from the distance of time, I would see the treasure there and wish that I had realized it then. So, I wanted, I still want, to know the good right now. Even if it doesn’t feel good right now.

I heard a podcast about the difference between good and perfect by Rob Bell. What I got out of it was that perfect is stagnant. There’s no room for growth. While good is something becoming. Good is okay with the times that we make a wrong turn, or a mistake, or the wrong choice because good knows that there’s still room for us to learn and grow. There’s still time to find more that’s good or a different good or even a bad that becomes a good.

Contrary to the saying, it’s not ALL good. But it has the possibility to get there…

horse and dog

Rum River

“T.S Eliot once said, ‘If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?’ We should all feel as if we’re in over our heads when we write; that’s how we know we’re writing about something that really matters. So it takes either courage, self-deception, ignorance, or some of all three, to knowingly put ourselves in this position. It takes an endless supply of hope. Writing anything is ultimately an act of faith and love.” ~ Lee Martin

In over our heads? I feel as if my head is going to explode. Head explosions are okay when it’s because you have so many great, creative ideas. Not so good when it’s because you have so many demands and things coming at you that you feel like someone is throwing a thousand ping pong balls in your direction.

I’ve started doing ten minutes of meditation a day fifteen days ago. Obviously, the benefits haven’t kicked in yet…

Traveling

I spent five days out of town for work. It’s amazing how out of sink you can get while traveling and how long it takes to get back into your rhythm. Some people like the shake up of travel. I want to like it, but I don’t.

I loved my past Oregon trip and my Colorado trip several years ago so perhaps enjoying traveling depends on where you are going and what you do when you’re there.

While I was away, I found out that I was accepted into the manuscript workshop, which is awesome! And also frightening. I don’t feel ready. But I probably would never feel ready. I’m just going in blind and trying to come up with a few chapters that ties everything together and makes the ending I wrote work. Not there yet…

Traveling over Ohio

I wrote a short chapter in my book that I thought I’d share here because, well, I’m a bit brain-dead and unable to come up with much else, and it sums up the way I feel about wildness and wonder, playfulness and connection, what we see and what we imagine. And when I feel like I’ve felt this week, I need a bit of coyote spirit…

Coyotes

I laid in bed, listening to the coyotes yipping in the distance. I could hear their movement, the excitement of the chase. Their calls grew louder and louder and then faded away. Unable to see them, my ears strained to catch every drop of their sound, to touch some part of their wildness.

The first time I heard their calls, a couple months after I’d moved into my house, they sounded excited, frantic, almost in pain. Their yips crescendoed as I looked out my bedroom window toward the field across the road. I expected to see furry shadows running through the tall grass, but all I saw was black night.

I called my neighbor and asked her, “Did you hear that?! What the hell was it?! A pack of wild dogs?” My friend laughed, “Coyotes.”

Coyotes. Tricksters. Wild. A pack. A community. I loved the thought of them. Out there. Invisible.

A lone coyote sounds sad — you can hear the searching in his voice. But a pack — the joining of voices. It is a song I long to hear again and again as I feel myself running with them.

 

Rum River

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