It’s already been an incredibly long summer. Long in the sense that I find it difficult to write posts for this blog without feeling mute and powerless. There isn’t a patch on the Earth that isn’t in some kind of turmoil or political upheaval, except for perhaps the penguin nations of Antarctica. This is one of those seasons where it is best to keep one’s mouth shut unless it is done carefully. I will not pollute my sensitive palate with pundits or campaign plots or the latest attack on humanity. And, frankly, there is so much not worth saying about an ugly world otherwise.
Which is why I retreat into my own worlds, and why the blog hasn’t been my source of therapy. The draft of my Novel is almost complete and being so close, it’s difficult to do much else. I can only handle so much. And that’s okay.
My job is not to be the wisest person in the most frustrating era. My job is to write, because in writing and making art, I can make the world more beautiful… one day at a time. Even if it is just one lonely little patch on a very big world. Even if for all appearances I’m silent. Even if the endeavor is a giant briar patch. Just write. Just live. That is all. I am a ladybug on a spray of flowers. I will just be.
There is plenty to do in those hours when I can’t be writing. This summer I’ve been deep into Bronte, Eliot and Gaskell. Almost done with Wives and Daughters, I am trying to decide if I want to go back and read Middlemarch or change things up and reread The Stand. Television-wise, I’ve also gone back to Doctor Who, starting in Series One, to slowly savor the old stories that first grasped me over ten years ago. My thoughts for August are about getting a draft ready of the Novel so that others can read it and scribble all over it. My thoughts for Fall are not about a tempestuous election but about Poldark returning to television. More stories, more words to savor.
And the cooler weather, obviously. Hot and humid, I am coming up with more reasons to hate summer than I ever gathered for winter: heat, noisy AC, shedding cat, high electric bill, sweat, insects outside and inside (fruit flies!), frigid AC at work, easy dehydration, sleepless nights, sweat, noisy people, sweat and heat and sweat. I live in a part of the country that sees dramatic season changes so that we’re invariably crabbing about winter and longing for summer or crabbing about summer and longing for winter. But Winter, despite its cold and the lack of sunlight, has a peaceful way about it. It’s easier to escape from cold than from heat. It’s easier to curl up with a cup of tea and a blanket than to camp out in front of the AC. I’d take messy half-melted dirty snow any of these stale, sweating, breezeless days.
Of course, in the Winter, the song will be in reverse, won’t it? I’ll miss the growing things and the garden vegetables and the occasional perfect days. Alas.
In little moments when I need a distraction from the weather (literal and political), I go to Pinterest and look up décor ideas for small apartments and scheme about rearranging the furniture and ponder if an oak dresser will fit in my walk-in closet. I realize that my 465 sq-ft apartment is actually not as small as some of those tiny spaces people inhabit in the bigger cities – and for one person, I have it made – even if I would like a slightly bigger kitchen. I have daydreams about spice racks and nesting tables, strategically-placed mirrors and hanging plants, a simple day bed, filling the trunk with things I don’t need, hiding the television even deeper in the closet, wondering if I could indeed use the built-in bookcase as a desk. This is exercise for an otherwise overtaxed brain, the joy of living well.
And there’s the joy of watching Beatrix-cat perched in the window, taking in the sights and smells of the neighborhood or chasing a hair-tie that I’ve launched passed her. As much as her habit of sinking her little claws into the furniture irritates me, I am blessed to have a healthy cat.
At the end of the day, elections don’t matter. What matters is how I used my gifts, if I stretched my mind into new possibilities, if I made the world just a tiny bit better by being grateful to God for all these things, and by using all that I’ve been given. Sure, the Novel is still a mess – sometimes a never-ending mess. But it is a good mess to have here, inside where it counts.