There were too many things left to do and not enough time to do them. I made many lists and inspirational collage boards, vision-scapes and dream catchers and planted them like hopeful seeds, intentionally, even artfully, but then they became nothing more than dust collectors. Like the old statues your great aunt displays on an etagere; if you had a great aunt with an etagere.
I wished to eliminate that clutter; to make a clean and spare space in which to plan my next move. It was not so much that I wanted to travel or tour the world. I wanted to have an impact. Was that so much to ask? To have one’s life have meaning? To make a difference?
So what is the point? To make a legacy? To distribute DNA? Not so much, I thought. I wished that I had “made better choices,” as though thinking that would make it possible to go back and change things. It is delusional to think that one can go back in time and make different choices based upon current parameters. So what is the point? Or is it really in between those momentous choices that life gets lived – in the minutia, where the choices combine to make a mighty current..
I have been extremely lucky, I realize. Although my life has been a series of dodging near fatal blows, I have ducked at all the right moments. I have risen to some occasions and been smacked in the head with some others. But is this book worthy? Is it legacy worthy? Or should it just fade in to the sediment and eventually be a thin striation, a layer in the landscape? I did not always feel this way, when my body was bent from ducking and wounded by the calamities that I had not managed to avoid. I felt like a victim then, although I usually managed to rally.
And I made things. That was my therapy, making things to give me comfort and keep me tethered to a corporeal world. I made things to create beauty in places where it did not exist before. For a long time, I felt that this was trivial. I who had seen severe lack should be saving the world with big and sweeping gestures. Not just making quilts. Not engaged in superficial decoration.
I do not know what changes I would have made, if it meant that any thing from now would be different. It is a fool’s game to think you know better, or that you would have made different choices.
Except smoking. I would not have smoked. I am made ill by that and I cannot fathom why we smoked – what possible reason there is or was for it. And I still suffer and probably will die from the effects of it, if the recent past is any indicator, which is why I probably write this now. In reflection. A last stab at renown. haha
So what else is there? To create worlds of fiction? To write poems that make people weep or rejoice? To make a painting that strikes deep chords?
I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be important. And I am just getting old instead, and all the invisibility and unimportance that comes with being old and average and acutely aware of it.
Getting old is a breaking of all of the promises that you make to yourself when you are young. You believe you will always be robust, that you will never crumple, that you will never get confused at the train station that you have traveled every day for years not recognizing the direction you should take to get home. You wait until the synapses refire as you watch the buskers, and you can make it home one more time.
There is a pile of grapefruit peels on the wooden table. they are slightly crisp around the edges. there is no pulp and yet the fragrance remains. Piquant. Slightly rotten. I can sweep the remains into the bin or I can leave them there because I like the smell. I like knowing they will be there until they are dried up and brittle. I think maybe I will make orange clove balls and hang them from our doors for the holidays.
Maybe the point is forgiveness, I think. This thought returns again and again. I knew I had to come back to it. It was nattering like a cranky ghost child for my attention, and I knew that if I did not give the thought the time to emerge and be defined that it would return, growing more and more unruly; more belligerent and misshapen.
So this forgiveness then. It had been lying at my feet like wrinkled panties for an eternity now. Or at least decades. I knew, or had been told, that to forgive was to relieve the weight of the burden from one’s own shoulders. That to carry a grudge, to be unforgiving was to continue to suffer. Sounds good, right? But still I could not forgive.
I tried. I mouthed the thoughts a thousand times.
Watched the thin shrouded retreating backs of my offenders recede into their barren, faintly iconic western landscapes.
“I forgive you.” I mouthed the empty words and felt no relief, only the rubble of anger under my skin erupting into thousands of tiny volcanoes from my body.
“I forgive you.” I repeated to their retreating dead bones. It wasn’t working.
It never did.
Realizing I needed to take a different tack, I said out loud, “I do not forgive you. I will not carry your offenses into a future which includes us both.
I hereby sever all relations. I am excising you from my future. All of the lives we have led together will not continue. I will go on alone, without the pain you inflicted, without the illusion of protection, without the constant stream of bloody darts – each tiny protrusion loaded with a poisonous message of betrayal and loss.”
I realized I would be better off if I could move into the next life, if there is one, alone, and make a new path, a distinct and lighter road forward. As though all roads are straight and forward bent and not some
spiral nest of footpaths leading nowhere.
I imagined them, my perpetrators, clustered together, set free by my declaration, wondering if I would come back; not quite believing that I was brave enough or stupid enough to jettison them.
Could I do that? Just inform the future lives that there would not be any accommodation for these offenders? These familiars?
They are vaguely threatening. “You will be sorry,” they intone. “You will not survive without us,” they glower.
Were they smoking cigarettes?
Still, considering all the options, it would be okay if I did not survive. At least it would be by my own volition that my being would or would not issue forth.
So, in a practical sense, I did forgive them, setting us all free, as though I un-harnessed my Iditarod team while crossing a barely frozen body of water, and then,
as they ran off barking gleefully, I slowly sunk into the the icy waters letting my wings unfurl, floating like a glorious and no longer extinct albatross, in the icy, clove and orange scented dream lake of my own creation.