The Heart Chronicles #13: Regarding the Strange Music of a Heart

After I met with a writer friend today, I thought (as I often have) there are times that all that needs to be said fits best in a poem. This can seem true to me even when dealing with heart specialists, who truly (reasonably so) love their own esoteric language. But I can get frustrated sitting in examination rooms, searching for the right words. It is challenging to articulate emotional nuances, sensory experiences, and random thoughts that accompany pain or sudden discomfort. Dizziness or breathlessness. A sense of suspension of time. Flashes of intuition that come from deep within–and how they can be an accurate alert system.  How can I tell Dr. P what it really is so he can better help?

Sitting on the table, the stethoscope against my back and chest, I often suspect that what my cardiologist hears is something other than what I hear within. Because I do hear my heart in my inner ear as well as feel its beating. Dr. P early on informed me that most people do not; some of us do. I had complained that it was annoying, sometimes distressing, but he reassured me that I was fortunate, as then I could quickly inform him when something seemed unusual, wrong. Reluctantly, I agreed, but how to translate it all?

Then came an appointment that built a bridge of communication with Dr. P. It was after the second stent implant 18 months following the first. My heart seemed confused and angry since the last invasions, even though relatively small ones–a fouth angiogram and the tiny stent implant. Despite it being successful, I had worse arrhythmias than ever. They distracted and interrupted my life. They hurt and alarmed. They reminded me, even when I felt  pretty well, that I had coronary artery disease. My heart chided me.

“If you were a musician I might be able to explain them better because they have distinctive patterns of rhythm,” I told him in exasperation.

He grinned. “It so happens I was a musician. I played trumpet in high school. So try me.”

“Good. Well, it’s like a run of sixteenth notes followed by a half-measure of rests, then maybe six or eight more sixteenth notes, then a rest that goes on so long I feel like I am going to pass out. Then a full note and it kicks back in hard with plain old four beats to the measure. And I’m back to normal. But sometimes it’s like acid jazz–free-form, you know? And it feels like it could actually kill me. ”

“So,” he said, “that’s great–I mean, this musical thing. I understand better.” He shook his head. “That’s sure a new way to interpret and explain.”

It was a relief that music had come to my rescue again. But that discovery also gave rise to musings about heart disease, music as central to my being and just how my life had been changed. And as I wrote, confoundment, a sort of awe and anger all came to the fore. So here is that poem–never given to Dr. P. One day, maybe. But it helped me.

Memo to a Cardiologist re: palpitations

I have told you what I know, how there are
hidden notes beneath the bursts of pain but
it is not like the songs of my childhood,
gentle and guileless,
nor the songs that I stole into the night to hear
when I thought I was old enough
to know some things, the music all bombastic and tricky.
This is more like jazz, all icicles and firecrackers,
split time and beyond time but
unable to quit, moon-dazzled and
howling but cool as can be.

Or it might be something else
all the notes and sounds that were forgotten
or shown the back door in a lifetime of concerts
now gathered and tossed onto taut drum skins,
sizzling, renegade rhythms,
speaking out of turn but not committed to anything,
damaging each other in their greed for recompense.

And then there are nights of errant dancers,
when they burst out of my ribs
and tap and stomp and slide across my chest,
their steps wild like bats in darkness,
pushing me from bed and into
the thick of it,
now a possessed woman, drinking air.

And all this time I think I need to write it down
for you, the quarter notes, sixteenths and dotted halves,
the peculiar rests amid the trills and fortes, decrescendos,
notes tripping over each other,
one long life/line of syncopated simpatico,
the rhythms daring me to do something, anything
when the beats heave themselves over a distant waterfall 
and are gone. Floating in rivers somewhere exotic.

Someone has called for intermission
and I am left with the wild taste of starlight and
hot blood, salt and the sharp reminder
that this is where I have been left and will have to resume,
my midnight manuscript in hand, pen poised,
the symphonic possibilities of Antarctica or Amazonia
still unheard by anyone but me,
this sudden incremental music
a foreshadowing of what is yet to come.

And it always comes, the second or third or fourth part
of this ordeal/song/ride to unknown destinations.
From here it seems dangerous and entrancing as
a white panther caught in a wildfire — I imagine her now
as I lay back–her feet scorched but poised for
a death-defying leap across the chasms.
This heart is beating like a thousand captive birds with
each tiny wing pushing against the wind,
all the way into heaven’s celestial soundings
and, perhaps, back home again.

copyright 20011 Cynthia Guenther Richardson

What Counts is Being Here Together

Tired, pensive and grateful: these come close to describing my feelings as I write tonight. Frankly, I had thought of skipping this post or maybe copying and pasting an already-published excerpt of my novel and leaving it at that. I am not deluded about the importance of these posts to others.

However, I love to write. I actually need to write, especially since life has so much to tell me.

And the last couple of days have been filled to overflowing. I just returned from two days attendance at the Northwest Institute of Addictions Studies conference. Each summer, it is given in partnership with the Addictions Studies Program at Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Counseling. There were various sessions offered, as usual, presented by local, state and national experts. The topics ranged from adolescent opiate abuse, mindfulness-based relapse prevention, health care and the need for integrating addictions services, and the complicated challenges of treating gamblers. I chose my sessions and gained some good information despite too-cool or too-stuffy rooms and long hours sitting in uncomfortable chairs. I have been to a lot of conferences over the span of twenty-five years. I even gave my own trainings in the distant past. And it’s seldom the information that interests me so much as the people, familiar or not.

As I settled in the first day, someone said my name. Sitting down beside me was a fine-featured woman. We had worked together thirteen years earlier with adolescents at a large outpatient mental health program. I had been at an outlying satellite office but still recalled her as being efficient, smart and a lot younger and more educated than I was. She told me she had burned out quickly so left the organization to raise a family and re-think things.

“But all those kids–I want to work with them again. So much is at stake for them. I think I can still help.” 

She was earnest and amazed by the new research about teens and addictions. I wished her well and ran into her later when she was deep in conversation with a presenter. Her enthusiasm was infectious. 

I saw another past co-worker in the hallways not once but three  times. We had worked with indigent, often homeless adults in city center but E. had left to work at the state level, doing more research-driven work that impacted policymaking. I had just read something she had written. We chatted easily although it had been seven years. She had recently retired.

“I think about it,” I admitted. “But I’m not sure I’m done with this work.”

“Oh, I’m starting a private practice,” she assured me and we laughed.

At one session I struck up a dialogue with a fiftyish, burgundy-haired woman who had driven six hours from a more rural area to Portland. She had worked with teens exclusively and was looking for more effective tools with which to treat them.

“They might be some tougher than when I started out twenty-five years ago but I’m tougher, too.”

I nodded; I understood what she meant. And the way she held herself and spoke convinced me. But as she spoke of her clients, her face softened with compassion and her eyes brightened.

Across a large room I spotted a man with whom I’d worked at a Native American treatment facility. I couldn’t catch his eye so I started to turn–then he waved and smiled.  I thought about the couple of years I spent with tribal members from all over the western states. They brought with them devastated lives and longing for their traditions. I have kept the beaded necklaces and bracelets some gifted me in a special box.

During lunch today I took a break from the throngs and sat by the hotel pool, eating my almond butter sandwich and soaking up the sunshine. A man sat down with his salad and quietly ate. I closed my eyes and was about to doze off when I glanced at him. His name tag informed me he was K. and worked at an agency near my place of employment. He was a mental health clinician so I closed my eyes again. I primarily address substance disorders and related issues. My impulse was to avoid a heavy conversation about mental health versus addictions treatment. But it is unlike me to not talk to someone who is sitting beside me, especially at a conference or other sociable gathering.

“How are you enjoying the sessions?” I asked.

We were off and running. He shared with me how he had only gotten into the field about eight years ago after a successful business career. He’d  thought he’d found something he loved and it turned out he was right. We covered the gamut from the problems inherent in diagnosis and the skills we try to bring to treating our clients, what works better and what seems to fail, and what surprises we have had. A couple of laughs were shared. We’ve had separate yet common experiences helping people to help themselves. I have outlasted him only because I have been at it longer. I recognized in his crinkly eyes a familiar gleam of passion for the work and we concluded we both will keep at this as long as we are able.

“Do you think you’ll find a way to do this even when you retire one day?” he asked as we wrapped it up.

“I can’t imagine not getting out there and being of some service,” I admitted. “Youth at risk, those waylaid or homebound by illness, people with hard luck and living in shelters, and, of course, alcoholics and addicts–there is so much going on that could use more helping hands.” I paused. “Or maybe I’ll write about it all. Probably both.”

“Yes, one way or  another, there’s work to do,” he agreed and warmly shook my hand. “I’ll keep you in mind when my clients need addictions treatment.” 

It was near the end of the day and I had one last session to attend on gambling. I looked forward to it but I was winding down.

“Hey Cynthia!”

I turned around and there was D. striding toward me. Over six feet tall, a bit heavier than the last time I had seen him, he exuded confidence and well-being. I grabbed his hand but he pulled me into a hug. We caught up briefly before the presenters began. He now sat on the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, still advocating for addicted persons albeit in another manner. I wondered what that was like for him; he said he enjoyed it. I asked him about his two children, how he was doing. It was a too-brief chat, as had been the case all day. But we’ve had many such exchanges over the years; I will run into him again.

 Truthfully,we don’t have to say much. He was barely twenty when he came to the field as a wide-eyed, fledgling counselor at the locked residential facility where I worked. Our clients were gang-affected or affiliated youth; kids who lived on the streets; kids carrying anger and trauma with them from morning til night, addictions their only escape. Yet those addictions  brought them to us, and DB and I sat with them, sorrowed with them, tried to protect them and each other awhile as their pain escaped like boiling water. D and I and the other counselors encouraged each other. It was not a very safe place but it was a place we chose to be.

We kept watch. We bore witness. If needed, we gave permission for them to tell their own truths. And we asked them to hold on while we cared so that they could discover and practice a better way.

Sometimes it all worked. And many times it did not. But D and I and the others kept at it because it was what we wanted to do. Or perhaps it chose us,  in the end.

As I leave the conference I recall K. asking me an odd question.

“Do you still remember them years later? I mean, do you think about your old clients and wonder if they are okay, if they got better, how their lives turned out?”

Yes, I told him. I remember their eyes, their dreams, their stories, the way they struggled to become whole and free. I remember their losses and triumphs.  They have left with me something of who they are, some more than others. Their lives never stop moving me.

And, too, I remember the dozens of counselors I have worked with and the conversations, large and small, that have made a difference to me. And the dignity of silent understanding when needed. Seeing them once more is a comfort: we just keep getting on with it.

What matters most is that we really are in this together–all just people in the end, lost or found or somewhere in between. 

The Heart Chronicles #12: Acting as If and The Beauty of Denial

The alarm shrieks at me through the French blue coverlet, locates me in the  cave of sleep. Dream wisps of a rocky ocean coastline and inviting white buildings fade as I force open my eyes. It’s Tuesday and I am being called to work at seven o’clock.

It seems impossible that it is time to wrest this body from the comfort of bed; the last time I had glanced at the clock it was four thirty. Neighborly birds had engaged in a long conversation about which branch belonged to whom, then they gave such a loud a capella concert that I closed the window and put in ear plugs. Shortly after that, the banging of my heart rudely startled me. It felt like a chastisement even though I had done nothing but try to get back to sleep. There had been more awakenings than stretches of sleep.

I step lightly on my feet and head for the shower.  The pounding continues, interrupted by a few of the jazz-rhythms I know so well. Skip/leap/spasm; jump with long pause, then sudden flight. The ones that stop me as I comb out my hair are the renegades, hammering as though I am made of steel, then respects no time signature and makes me dizzy. I rest, wait a bit.  Should I stay home or go to work? I think of ten, usually eleven hours ahead of me, doing the work I have passion for but work that also can exhaust during the best of times. And when I get too little sleep for a couple of nights,  my heart inevitably complains. Still, I have felt this way countless times and gone forward with obligations, or social and family plans.

And this is the beginning of my “acting as if”: I look into the mirror and breathe carefully, then compose myself. I put on make up, eat breakfast, spend a few mintues reading a meditation book. I  repeat a couple of times as I drink tea: I will be alright. I need to be alright. As though my wish is granted this time, the crazy beats stop as suddenly as they began. No need to call Dr. P or 911. I proceed with the morning’s routine. In an hour I am out the door.

At work I trade information and smiles with co-workers, then focus on taking care of clients, work on lengthy documentation, facilitate group therapy, complete assessments of treatment needs, attend to individuals in private sessions. My heart makes itself known a few times like a loved albeit cranky relative but it is manageable; I am doing well enough. No one else knows what secret events are occurring inside my chest. I barely understand it myself. I am tired but walk quickly and with purpose, as is my habit and, today, also my conscious intent.  At my desk, I close my eyes a few moments. I encourage myself: the day has ben productive and is passing and when night comes I will rest. I consult with a team member and then greet the next client. By mid-evening, I get into my car and turn on classical music, relieved. The cranky heart is quiet and the well-behaved one is busy keeping me going.

I learned the value of “acting as if” long ago. Most children do. We are told to keep our heads up, that when you fall get right back up. We are trained to put the best face/best foot forward. And this has obvious benefits: we discover we are stronger and more sturdy than we supposed, and that to experience victory we have to learn from defeat. It is a skill used to face life on life’s terms, one that can lead to grace under fire and resilience under pressure. Act as  though there is courage when fear is present, as if there reigns well-being and health instead of chronic pain. Acting as if can get us through rough days and nights but it also can provide us with essential dignity when we need it most. It feels better to gather my wits about me when consternation or discomfort set in, to look up and forward, not down. Most miseries can be addressed later.

And so, I act as if this life could go on forever.

That is where I come to on those days when I wonder if I can withstand the difficulties of heart disease: I sometimes refuse to think of what could be ahead, even while I cooly acknowledge the possibilites in the back of my mind. There are many ways to deny the full extent of the matter.

I was thinking of all this as I looked at my books this morning. In the bedroom alone there is a five- shelf bookcase, and two with three shelves. Books are set atop the tightly wedged ones. Several stacks of hardbound books tower at either end of the dresser and beside the bed. The bedside table has a shelf that is stuffed with cheap paperbacks, just in case I want a quicker read than the more literary tomes. But no book is really a quick read for me. I take my time at the very end of work and “free” days. I savor each line of an author’s words and then re-read many to enjoy a richer appreciation. I dissect those that stun me so I may learn more about the craft of writing. But occasionally I wonder why I keep buying books when there are already so many. The answer is simple. I love them. I want to be surrounded by them. I want to read them all. And by purchasing new or trading in old for newer ones I tell myself: You can read this next month, next year. They will be here waiting for you always, gifts of unknown worlds, characters that walk through these very pages. The books already read show me who and where I have been thus far. And the new ones point me toward the future, help me believe this life will be much longer-lived. There will be time enough.

I could name a dozen more ways in which I forget I have heart disease. But I don’t generally awaken thinking about mortality. I think instead about all I want to do, give, and still become.

In my estimation, denial has been given a bad name over the years. A common thought is that to deny is to not take responsibility, to not deal with reality. It perhaps allows me to avoid the truth a bit, but this gives me time to prepare for what is ahead. It grants me this present moment to live right within the center of life, however I care to do so–and encourages me to be beckoned by the continued journey.  I look at this earthly life and still see the beauty of it. Tomorrow or the next day may not be mine, but for now, I choose to act as if they will.

Simone’s Summer of Certain Wonders

The sun had finally shrugged toward the horizon, and the courtyard was finally coming alive again. There was a circle of young men playing cards at a picnic table under the sole palm tree. Two middle-aged women were sipping iced tea on a bench, mopping their brows and necks with tea towels.  A toddler ran laughing and screeching from his father, who was barbecuing on the patio. Fragrant odors of chicken with a piquant sauce wafted across the grass where they tangled with scents from other grills. The traffic beyond the wrought iron gates of Mistral Manor Apartments had changed from the busy commuters’ stop-and-go pace to revved up engines given to sudden starts and languorous stops. It was mid-July and that meant the night would be warm and dusty and shimmering with life.

Simone propped her head on her hand as she sat at the round table. She traced the bright tile mosaic surface she had recently completed while she observed from her fourth floor perch. Just high enough to see between a variety of trees, she could also spot who went in and out from Cole’s Kaffee on the other side of the street. Tina and Harry Miles had left ten minutes ago, to be replaced at the table on the deck by Carter and Gloria, Simone’s neighbors across the hall. They were bringing back an iced mocha for her and a caramel bar, if any were left. They were good to her.

It was a decent start to an otherwise slow summer. Simone hadn’t really gone anywhere yet. The hopeful plan had been to be up and moving by the end of June, sign up for a harpsichord class, get back to easy exericse, get in touch with Higgins and Hughes, the law firm she had worked for until the end of April. Get back to her industrious lifestyle of long hours of labor made worthwhile by week-ends of recreation.  Well, no one and nothing was cooperating  with her wishes. May rained itself right into June and June sauntered into July with sunshine at last. And here she still sat.

Beneath her on a bench between the lavender, peonies and pots of red geraniums, Kari waved.

“Want me to come up later?” she called. “I’m meeting Trey for dinner and then we’re going salsa dancing. “Her hand flew to her mouth before she could stop it. “I know you miss dancing. Sorry.We are just… getting out of the hot apartment for a while. It’s been an age since we had a good meal, too.”

Simone grinned at her old roommate; Kari had moved in with Trey in October. “Well, of course you want to get out. It’s a perfect night for it. And I’m not so sure I miss the press of sweaty bodies in the clubs!  If my light is on when you get home, give me a call if you want. And have fun!” 

Trey emerged from the doorway of the apartment building and came up behind Kari, then took her hand. She pointed up at Simone and he waved as they left.

She shifted in her chair and opened the book she had been trying to read for a week. It was something light, Gloria had said when she loaned the novel. Something beachy, although there was no beach within an hour’s reach.  Something to keep her mind off things, give her a laugh. But she could still, surprisingly, laugh; she just kept thinking about things. About how it could have been different if she had made other choices.  Just walked away that last night of April instead of having continued the conversation, then gotten hooked by the debate,  then snared in the argument and finally trapped by the same old story: demands, pleadings, tears. Yes, that man could weep to beat all. And just as fast be transformed into something unrecognizable, cold as steel and full of rage. She shook her head to clear it.  The last thing she needed was for Bart’s face to loom at her all night. She flipped the page and read the next paragraph, then read it again and a third time. No use. She pushed it aside.

But four floors below there was a panoramic scene to sample, to absorb and wonder over. There was another small group forming a circle and she knew it would be a long night of music.  Two guitars, three hand drums, a rain stick, a flute or two, a violin, even. It was Friday night and whoever was around came down and started up a song. Simone heard a penny whistle weave in and out and around the melody, light and clear and captivating. She caught her breath.

“He’s back,” Simone said aloud and sank deep into her chair. Sean McAllister had been touring the British Isles and Europe with his band for the last five months. He surely knew the whole sorry story by now, unless he had just gotten in. Kari may even have called him in spite of Simone’s protests. He might be disgusted with the whole thing, with her, and was avoiding her. That’s what some of the old crowd did. But, then, she also wasn’t partying anymore. She fervently hoped he wouldn’t look up. Her face still looked less than what she’d been told to expect, scars across her cheekbone and chin, nose still a bit bumpy. But what she really didn’t want him to see was her humilation. Shame.

He, along with so many others, had warned her. He had said yes, Bart was charming and capable and also impossible, a man who couldn’t have it any way but his own–a man who could flip like a switch if you looked at him wrong. Sean had told her: “I know him, he was with a band I was in a few years ago, remember? As your friend, as someone who cares about you for who you really are–not only your outstanding good looks and fabulous intellect,  by the way–tell him to shove off!” At which point she had given him a swat across the head with her sweater and sent him back home with leftover spaghetti and salad from their late dinner. Before he left he ran down from the seventh floor and had again lectured her. “Better break it off or you will regret it. I want to come home and find you happy again.” Simone had saluted him and he’d enveloped her with a hug that she sank right into. But she had finally broken it off. Or tried to. And paid the price. 

The Irish jig morphed into something eastern in flavor, became a light melancholic tune. It moved through the tree branches and leaves so that they seemed to sing a song of gentle longing. Simone shut her eyes and let her mind wander to better times.

Until she laid her hands upon her thighs and felt the right leg cast all the way up to her hip, the left leg still bandaged from slow-healing wounds. It had been an accident: she had wanted to believe that for weeks after she left the hospital. But it hadn’t been, not really. No, not at all.

Bart had made her get into the car and had driven out to the Pointe like a madman, slapping her as he drove, yelling things she had never heard before and still tried to forget. And when they had reached the spot, the place where only last summer she had climbed the small bluff with friends, he had yanked her out and shaken her until her mind went blank. She tumbled and as her helpless body bounced off rocks and earth she saw a profound blackness filled with garish bursts of light, then nothing. Until a week later, when she awakened, immobilized, wounded, astonished at what her life had come to.  Everyone else was amazed she wasn’t paralyzed or dead but for her, it was a horror that she would end up here at all. She would not have believed it possible to fall for such a man. He would be end up incacerated for a long time, they told her; a car had driven up just as she had fallen over the ledge of rock so there was a witness. And may he suffer dearly, they added in more brutal words than that. She couldn’t know about his suffering. She hoped he was facing himself and feeling something, at least regret, but expected otherwise. There was no one left to hear apologies. He would certainly see it all as a serious inconvenience.

For Simone, there were court dates ahead and she dreaded them. Seeing him. Remembering what she tried to forget every day. But she had to stand up for herself. And then maybe she could move on.

Simone snapped her eyes open and bit her lip. She focused on the peaceful courtyard. The musicians played a lively song, improvising easily. The women who had rested before were now gone, and a group of children jumped rope, chanting rhymes. The sun was softer now, the heat diminished, the sky a more tender blue. Everywhere she looked there were people just living their lives on a July evening. They were spread out beneath her like a colorful safety net. She breathed deeply and her nostrils filled with the balmy air. She was grateful to be home at all the last two weeks, resting on this balcony that was washed in transluscent golden light, the courtyard a welcoming place.

A broad hand suddenly crossed her peripheral vision; in it was her tall iced mocha in a clear plastic glass. Simone turned her head to see who it was and then looked away. Sean knelt and took her hands into his, turned them over, and placed his lips in the center of each opening palm. Then he sat beside her and they watched the scene change once more.

The Heart Chronicles #11: Approaching Normal, Abnormal in Close Pursuit

My youngest daughter and I have embarked on a mid-afternoon walk.  Sunshine chases a bluebottle dragonfly ahead of me; shadows scatter. The scents of plants, flowers and warming earth fill me up.  I am climbing an overgrown, irregular hill, leg muscles responding, the forward momentum aiding my progress. Perspiration reminds me it is summer at last.

Near the top I feel a small lag between what I need and want to do and what is happening: breath comes faster and harder, feet find a hold and push on, hands look for something to grasp. My daughter suggests we could head back down, maybe find another route. I have a few more yards to the summit and so I keep climbing, slow but steady. My life is rooted in a few simple committments, one of which is this: to enjoy utilizing this body as I give over to the vagaries of beauty in the Pacific Northwest. And beyond.

But before I reach level ground, I stop. My heart is thudding, enough  that my ribs feel too small and frail to contain it. A complicated structure putting out powerful energy, this heart demands my attention. I am at a standstill. Pulse/respiration/blood pressure up: I am suddenly tired even though dopamine and serotonin are skyhigh. Although happy, here are the reminders that I am not quite the woman I had hoped to be back when I was thirty, forty and then fifty, still envisioning the best. Even a week ago. And it stings as I wait for this to pass. A wave of anxiety passes through me.

A week ago I was given a brief review of the results from the yearly stress echocardiogram test. My own cardiologist was on vacation so a PA delivered it without ado. Arteries: really looked great (“as far as we can see”). Valves: not so great.

I had known there was a mild problem a year ago. The flu had taken me down for a hard couple of weeks and the ER x-ray was sent to cardiologist, Dr. P. He had prescribed an ace inhibitor to reduce blood pressure in addition to the other medication I was taking. To put less stress on the valve, he noted, and keep my slightly enlarged heart from enlarging more. The new pill’s side effects had caused me to drag from the moment I awakened and all through my work days. It felt as though I was forced to  downshift when I needed to upshift and put my foot to the pedal. But I adjusted. I hadn’t thought about that mild valve problem again. I was busy participating in work, social events, family gatherings. My exercise routine was maintained at a more consistent level than ever before. I had improved endurance, and with that came greater confidence.

But now I heard: “Surgery in next few years to replace the deteriorating valves…don’t want to wait until it gets too bad…” and tried to memorize what he said without success.

After I got the news I went on with my day. Somewhere in the bread aisle at the store my chest constricted; sadness rose up in me like a bitter tide. I had planned on something other than this, something better. A small reward. I had worked hard; I had withstood the challenges for ten years. The stent implants were still doing their job, so why this?

I paid for my groceries and went home, then sat down to write fiction about people and events that had the opportunity for auspicious developments. I can transform nearly anything with the alchemy of words. In the sphere of imaginings, beginnings and endings always lead me to another path of intrigue, and usually to higher ground. I forget the most mundane or damaging moments, and call on a broader and deeper view, a multiplicity of experiences: my writer’s voice.  Anything can happen. Miracles stop by as though they are neighbors. I make my way in the world like this, both literarily and otherwise, as often as possible.

So, near the top of this hill where we stop, I acknowledge the uncomfortable hammering of my heart but also the distance from the bottom to this point. Several years ago I was unable to climb that far, that fast. I would have had to hold on to someone, and then return  before reaching my goal. But now I put a foot forward, then the other until I make the last stretch.  The top of the hill is nothing much. It was the view I’d come looking for, but sometimes pinnacles are surprisingly ordinary. The breeze is soothing in the intense light. My heart rate slows; all trace of the earlier fear has left. The way down is easy. My  daughter follows, talking lightly about life, her laughter sweet. I relax a bit too much, almost slide over the dirt and plants, through the fragrant, cool woods, but a crash landing is likely. 

And that is not what I intend on happening–a crash landing. I have had enough of those over the years. I long to keep at bay the more terrible possibilities that could hijack this life, so I try to make the right choices, remain diligent in my tasks, develop more acute vision and give rein to any inspired moments. I would like to be a better conduit for Divine Love.

Meanwhile, it seems I might need more repair–for strength, for stamina, for a bit more longevity. I wasn’t that sold on trying to become so much more normal, anyway. It has always been the odd bits and pieces that have seemed to make the whole richer in the end. What appears to be the weak link can become the thing that makes the better difference. When all is said and  done, I’m up for the next go ’round.

(Thanks, Alexandra, for all your encouragement and love.)