(photo: Tuck the wonder dog)
Everything is emotion. Or rather emotion is everything.
Wisdom from the aged. Me.
My plan was to start formulating an essay, which I hoped to submit for publication.
For a few days, I’d been cogitating on an idea for said essay. Yesterday, I wrote about the seed of the idea I had, looking at if from different angles, trying hard not to judge the odd directions this seed took me. The planned couple of paragraphs ended up filling seven pages of my 8 1/2 x 11 1/2 journal. After I was finished, I put my work aside. I needed to move onto something less intense. I took my dog for a walk.
The essay stems out of a moment with my father from nine years ago, a few days before my sister’s wedding, seven months before he died. I was driving him to the hospital for his weekly blood-cleaning and transfusion. He was pretty sick, the cancer had reached his brain causing all sorts of chaos, hence the need for someone to drive him. He told me about his meditation that morning and a “vision” he had, which I found tremendously upsetting. Before I spoke, he continued, telling me what he thought the vision meant. He spoke of something uplifting, lovely, and completely different from my reading of it.
This morning, I reread my notes and took more notes, trying to figure out where to go with the essay. As I wrote, stories I’ve long forgotten rose into my consciousness, something that often happens to me at this stage of writing. My hand was moving faster than my ability to understand what I was writing but I knew I was headed in the right direction. When I was done, I looked down at another seven pages, and my eyes filled. I’d written scene after scene of painful moments between me and my father during his six or seven year fight against kidney cancer. When somebody dies, the one thing you try to forget are those times, times when watching them deteriorate becomes too difficult for you, times when they act out in ways that they can’t control but that frightens you, times when others break down in front of you. And here it was in black and white, clearly the building blocks for the essay I’d been excited to write.
Writing is like this. Whenever I hit emotional turmoil, I know I’ve hit pay dirt. And I want to run. As far away as possible.
But I also want to dig deeper because I know there is something there.
After I reread what I’d written, I stood up, paced, called for my dog. He was always underfoot except now. Did he know I needed to get to this place alone? When he bounded in to see me, I got down on the floor with him and told him how much I love him. Because I do.
Also because I’ve secretly always pretended that my father’s soul made it’s way into this creature. He was born only a few months after my father’s death and came into my life when I was struggling to make peace with my loss. He was the perfect companion. He needed somebody to take care of him and I needed somebody to not judge my mood swings and to simply love me. Unwittingly, he nursed me back to mental health. Well, as mentally healthy as I get.
A few minutes on the ground with my dog and I felt rejuvenated. I told him to stay by my feet, and I reread today’s writing. Then, I wrote an outline of the essay. And it was good.
The dog got a little more love. I got a little closer to telling a story that I need to tell.
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