On Monday as I clicked “publish” for my self-absorbed post full of insecurity and self doubt, I read it is my hundredth post at my “new” blog. Added to 471 posts published on highmountainmuse.com, and 112 on highmountainhorse.blogspot.com. As one friend says, that’s a lot of words.
I somehow question if there should be more. Not more words. But… more… I don’t know what. Answers. Like, why am I doing this? Where is this going? What is the point? And even as I am unable to answer these questions, I continue to… write.
More… what? Purpose, direction, results. Something concrete. Something to show for all the time put into it. Something more than a lot of words.
Horse people will get this part. Cyndee writes: “I have a tee-shirt that says ‘The Ride is the Reward’. You know, all those hours spent feeding, mucking, doctoring & worrying in exchange for the complete freedom of time in the saddle, time to just ‘be’ – always looking for those few fleeting strides of perfect unity with your horse? There is no financial reward, no ‘atta boys’, it is simply who we are. Maybe you need a tee shirt that says ‘The Write is the Reward’.”
Some days all I see are more unanswerable questions, more desire for expression, improvement, diving deeper and/or soaring to new heights… and no interest in writing less. More, more, more! If only that “more” would get me somewhere. Alas, it is the journey, not the destination. So I am often told. So I would like to believe. And so I will question regularly.
Questions. Compromise. Trying to get somewhere but we don’t always know where “there” is. And perhaps it does not matter. Yes, it is the journey… I tell myself again.
We start off heading in one direction. We learn and grow along the way (hopefully) and may find ourselves somewhere far from where we thought we were headed.
There are days I wish I married a farmer instead of a mountain man. To be grounded, on flat land, in routine. Though just as affected by the elements. And just as connected with nature. But we don’t choose who we fall in love with. I think it’s one of the few things that is really out of our control.
But a mountain mama I suppose is what I would have been called even before coming here. Those who knew me then… running a bit wild in the woods with my baby on my back and a couple of dogs beside me; quiet mornings alone with my dairy cow, my head resting on her flank, talking in a soft and soothing voice as my hands are warmed on her generous teats; learning to horse pack at the expense of innocent children who trusted me (hey, we always made it home alive…); out there in the rain with a shovel in hand, the moisture dripping from my face equal parts internal and external elements.
Compromise. I think of this now. I think of this often. We can’t have it all. What matters most? What are we willing to work for? What are we willing to leave behind? For at some point, something has to be left behind.
Here and now. The compromises to be here. Extremes, so many extremes, from the elements to the tourists to the lack of air. Shortness of breath as a way of breathing. Wool hats and down jackets year round. The endless chore of firewood, bucking, splitting, hauling, burning. Thirty days frost free and leaves on the trees for but four months. Complications with altitude that kills innocent colts unexpectedly. The inability to fatten a pig or find a way to keep a small herd of cattle or flock of sheep year round. Parched lips and bloody noses. Sunburn and wrinkles. In-laws, oh those few dreaded in-laws, who choose conflict and control, meanness and manipulation as a way of life. And the void of a sense of community, which became more bittersweet a compromise to be without after having spent the winter a part of such a wonderful one.
And what do I have? Silence. Solitude. Wilds. Brilliant sunshine and radiant views. Endless miles and mountains to wander. Peace and love for the land like I have never felt before. Connection. Admiration. Adoration. Of mountain, sky, river and air.
Why here, I wonder? Perchance like falling in love.
Why we are such reflective beasts, when all other creatures are content focusing on a good rest, sex, survival and the next meal. Ha, you say, we do that too. Yes, that and more. So much more. Too much at times. How complicated our lives are due to thought alone.
So the best I can do on days like this is put down my shovel or my fencing tool, be still, take a deep breath, and look up at the sky with the ever changing clouds more brilliant than a painting could ever capture, cradling me and my wild world, and become lost in the roar of the spring river echoing like a distant orchestra from the cliffs above the mighty Rio, and count my blessings as a flock of blackbirds swirls around me in a joyous cacophony.
12 thoughts on “Compromise”
Gin, I read everyone of your posts- I think this is one of the best you’ve written.
Honestly, Brian, this kind of feedback helps me very much. Thank you, much appreciated. Now, if I could only figure out what I did right…
Memoir writing is all about the Journey, self-discovery, and the process, which then provides some type of inspiration for the reader. Maybe you haven’t reached the ‘discover’ part yet? you’re still on the journey part! Keep going!
BTW I’m a writing professor and have my own blog, which is more about causes–rights– and creativity than personal memoir: http://www.skyofstars.com.
Self-publishing? One agent last year at the Miami Book Fair told me it is perfectly acceptable now. I think it wasn’t so 2,3, 4 years ago.
Oh boy… I just scanned the first page of your blog and I’ve got some catching up to do… fantastic… thank you for sharing the link… but no thank you for getting me sucked in when I already don’t feel I have enough time away doing other things besides sitting here staring at the computer screen. Always enough time to think, though, so I think reading your thoughts on your blog will be positive. We don’t have to agree to learn, grow, define ourselves, our world, our values, out ethics. But we do have to take the time to contemplate and consider.
Wow, I’m glad to get to know you, Sherie. I think I’ve hit the tip of the iceburg and look forward to learning more about you, what you do, your writing, what you stand for.
And back to the self publishing – I doubt he reads this so I can say it – but I swear I thought finding a literary agent would be the do all and end all and it would just fall into place from there. I scored an agent I feel wonderful about, I trust and I respect. I signed on last summer and he is still unable to sign on a publisher for my manuscript. On his end, I understand he is dealing with a greatly changing market. On my end, I am dealing with losing patience (when he keeps telling me to be patient) and losing confidence…
And all I want to do is write the next manuscript. How can I justify that when the first still won’t sell?
Ah, we’ll see. We’ll keep trying. It’s the journey, right?
So… looking foward to keeping in touch with you… here… and on your blog!
And did I forget to say that this post is breathless? The power of your writing is in the poetry. You’re a poet. So I put a link to your blog on twitter, with a quote from this post. Here’s the link: https://twitter.com/#!/DrSherieGache
For some reason, this Twitter thing overwhelms me. Two things. First, your mention of the book “Twitter for Dummies.” That sounds right up my ally. Second, my 19 year old son is on his way back from university. Surely he’ll be able to walk me through… A private tutor?!?!?
Oh wow! I did just click on your link for Twitter (so brave of me) and really, it is so nice to see your face, to know who you are conversing with! OK… back to trying to figure this all out…
Gin, you are so very hard on yourself. There is a reward in being. But to those who are given more, from them more is expected. So we have good perceptive minds. Well we shall have more inner conflict to resolve. I was riding a trail yesterday evening and saw a place where someone had driven a 4WD up a bank churning soil and moss for no good reason. A young soul (a “newbie” Kelli would have called him) would not see what was wrong in that. An old soul like me was pained. You and I, we each carry a double-edged sword.
You say that sometimes you wish that you’d married a farmer. I’d give a great deal to be married to a strong, reflective, thoughtful woman like you. But I’d not survive at the altitude you live at. You’d become frustrated down here for want of challenge. You’re a rare individual: as Churchill said of T E Lawrence, “this creature does not thrive in captivity”. But I do see a little of the medieval ascetic in you, forever scourging herself in order to attain some greater purity. What perfection do you seek, Gin? You don’t have to prove yourself to those who read your words, who are impressed by your keen observations and by your fine prose. We love you and respect you just as you are. No further proof is required. There is peace if you will accept it from the hands of those who know and love you.
Your words challenge me to consider life like the glass of wine before me, of sweetness and sorrow swirling in the same crystal hard in my hands.
I can not find words for a proper response yet, I am slow to absorb, but find thoughts that lure me deeper from the words you have shared.
Working a poem last weekend, I consider now the briefness, perhaps frugality, of word for greatest of meaning. I’m not there in my blog or memoir writing, of course, but trying to get it to work in my poetry. In reflection of your note, I share this with you, and as I read it over again, I am not impressed. Yes, hard on myself. But how else does one learn?
Oh wild beast
It does not become you
Eyes narrow and pulse quickens
I pace the cage uneasily
Gin, I just wrote a very long comment at which point the computer crashed. Even having saved it didn’t help. I guess that’s why my wife insists that my password ought to be “piece of shit” because that’s what the computer gets called most often. Anyway I’ll try to reproduce what I had written though most often it doesn’t come out same way around the next time and it is very late here.
I took a bit of a risk writing very openly last night, and I am glad that it was useful. You are defining yourself against “civilisation”, which is a sort of bogeyman “un-Gin” out there. It whispers “I’ll make you like me”, as if it could. It’s your antithesis. But you don’t need to maintain the straw man of “civilisation”. You’re well enough defined on your own, and sufficiently resilient, to stand alone. And you’ve proved that you can live at low altitude, do a job, have friends, wax about fresh cinnamon rolls. That’s scary – a part of you wanted to go there and did well at it. Scary! There’s a suburban seed gnawing at the tough frontier woman. (I suppress a smile whilst writing that last sentence. If I was sharing a jug of wine with you, my grin would tell you that I’m teasing just a little.) You know, sometimes I feel good running a meeting in the city office. Letting down my outdoor side again, obviously.
I used to define myself in a similar way, against “town people” with their pointless materialistic bourgeois suburban values – people like my parents whose way of life I had no respect for – being adopted can make one feel that way. Well that way of life is just as dull and pointless today, after I disappeared into eight years of exile, but I no longer care. They can’t make me like them. I live life on my terms.
Besides, “civilisation” enables you to live in the wilds and communicate. It gives you electricity, the internet, warm clothes, a truck…..it enables you to life far away. And “civilisation” would have constrained you far more in the past – serial childbirth, short life expectancy and bulky dresses for “modesty”. “Civilisation” gives me the leisure to read your words and the means to reply.
Your poem speaks to me. I do feel something akin to your emotion. You express your present and help me to grasp the part of my past that set me into flight. And you touch the face of my shadow, which would tell me that I cannot make it here and must run again to some remote refuge. That shadow, with all his instability and fear, alarms me just as “civilisation” disturbs you.
Hmmmm… yes, I relate to that “piece of shit” that we just can’t live without…
Much to say in response to your thoughtful and deep comment. I start with this: Opening up is important, for life is only half lived if we give half of ourselves. Only half lived if we hold ourselves back. Are we brave enough to live life open and full? Are we brave enough to see the open side of those around us? Or do we prefer ourselves and our world sugar coated capsules, easier to swallow and kills the pain?
OK, enough… As my son would tell me if he were here (and he will be soon!), too deep for first thing in the morning.
Off to work…