What I Mean When I Say “Big Love”

9-fried-potatoesI was frying potatoes.
Contemplating the meaning of life.
For real, I am not making this up.
Feeling small. Ponderous.
What is my message?
What is my purpose?

And then I stirred the potatoes.
They were dinner for my wife
who can eat 14 things now,
including water and salt
and sugar and coffee,
rice and chicken
and oats and organic Gala apples
and blueberries, boiled,
and whole milk and best of all
butter. Also seltzer and Pom juice,
her new elixir of choice.

And I remember when it was only rice
and Coke
and she was losing weight and scaring
us both and everyone else
and someone asked if she was dying
and I went crazy in my head
at the question, which I knew was
not unreasonable given her rapid
precipitous decline but still could not
hear, could not accept, could not bear
when everything in me was existing
to keep her here and help her live.

So frying potatoes, you see,
really did have me contemplating
the meaning of life, and the meaning
of survival, the meaning of joy,
the meaning of thriving, the meaning
of healing, the meaning of marriage,
the purpose of loving, the message
of resilience, of learning how to give
and of learning how to receive,
of being forced so far out
of our comfortable roles
that we both had to grow
into bigger, more complete humans.

And in the growing, so much became
available — poems and dreams
and going all the way into the dark
that we wouldn’t let claim us
and seeing each other
there, eyes lit by eyes
and hearts by hearts
and knowing
that to be given another chance
is nothing to sneeze at or spit at,
nothing to miss even a minute of
to self-pity or regret or doubt
or envy. We get to be here.

That’s it. That’s my purpose.
That’s my message.
We get to be here.
And if it’s not working for you,
change something.
Because you can.
Always.

Waiting for the Muse? Don’t.

vintageI can always tell when I’ve drifted from my own practice.

What originates as a genuine impulse to write something “good” blooms into a full-blown paralysis that can keep me from writing anything at all. I’m waiting for the Muse–and she’s not even on running late.

This is when I sit down, set the damn timer, and start– somewhere, anywhere–without knowing what the hell I’m going to write. It is both scary and a relief to put words on paper, one after another. To risk ridicule (always imaginary, fyi) by sharing writing that’s truly unpolished and unedited, typos and all.

My point?

If you’ve thought about signing up for one of my groups but are convinced your writing isn’t good enough, here’s the deal: I get it. This is exactly why we gather and practice.

Even if you’re not interested in the connections part (though it is magic, I tell you), give yourself the freedom of letting the writing suck. It’s a portal to the good stuff you may not even know is there, waiting.

In that spirit, I’m sharing here what I wrote this morning and posted in my current two-week group. (The prompt was “uprooted.”)

***

Up up up up and away. Rooted down down down deep. I was up during the night, writing in my head, writing lists of useful writing tip and writing blog posts and writing responses to other people’s writing and writing poems and stories, none of which can I remember now. I was rooted to the bed, sweaty and perimenopausal and with a pillow between my legs inspired by Kristi’s nest, the heat turned up in our room and the space heater on, too — the room is above the garage, an addition, and with temps in the single digits it can get really drafty. But by middle of night, between all those heat sources and my own little engine that could and my wife’s small heating pad over her belly, I was drenched.

What does this have to do with uprootedness? I don’t know. I am not inspired with any one idea or image or story this morning, and so I am just showing up anyway to write, rather than waiting all day hoping for the muse to strike me, to make my roots into electric bolts of beautiful words. I’m giving myself carte blanche permission to walk the talk here today, to write the worst junk in America, to not give a shit what comes out.

Up up up up reminds me of throwing a toddler into the air and catching them, maybe just a few inches, but oh, that moment for them of being airborne must be exhilarating, as evidenced by the glee and “again! again!” that surely follow. And so again and again we do this, until my arms are tired and I’ve gotten my workout and we go outside to the grass to inspect the tree back and the exposed roots.

“Roots,” I say. “Can you say, ‘roots’?” “Woots,” the baby repeats. Woots, woots, woots. All day long we look at various objects. She holds them up and asks, “Woots?” And then, “Up?”

What does this little child know of being uprooted? Nothing. She doesn’t know such a thing exists. I am up in my head while she is rooting around for my breast, suddenly this toddler in my mind’s eye is an infant again nursing, and I’m grounded by this in a way I never knew possible. I miss it, that total complete unerring sense of purpose and presence that came with nursing, with babies, with tossing toddlers in the air and looking for woots in the gwass.

Now I have a couple of minutes left on the timer. There is a huge pot of chili on the stove thanks to Emily’s blog and the recipes she shares there. It is made with sausage and ground turkey instead of beef. I had to close the doors and turn up the air purifier in our room, our hermetically sealed addition where mast cell disease can kiss my naked ass.

The next time I uproot, I’m taking her with me, and vow never to leave myself behind again. May there be more babies, more up up ups and more woots down deep. The timer still hasn’t gone off and I, oh, there it is. The end.

***

Want to practice with me? Yay! Here are my upcoming groups:

Stark Beauty, January 18-29 | Register
Mini Memoirs, February 8-29 | Register

And if you’re looking for an amazing year-round group of welcoming, funny, kind, creative, and smart folks who love writing, come on over and join The Inky Path community. In the fanfuckingtabulous estimation of one member “It’s the best place on the internet.”