What brought it on…

We’re in the kitchen talking about the harder days.  Before running water, hot water heaters, finished walls and trim work.   Long before luxury items like curtains, matching plates and book shelves. Our first year here. The summer of the three of us in a one room cabin. Though we moved to a larger cabin for winter (offering room to initiate a budding new relationship), that season even the septic line froze. We hauled our water downhill on a push sled and were grateful for a nearby outhouse.

I think what scared me most was the cold.  The stories worried me, which I believe they were meant to do.  Funny if you consider that no one else had lived here before us.  So where did the stories come from?  The rumor mill, at work again? Finding factual accounts and figuring out the truth takes time.  I could not get firsthand reports.  There were none.  Only exaggerated stories and distorted memories.  No problem.  Learn to write the book yourself.  And no disappointment from expectations.

Just the same, comfort is not what attracted me then or now.  Financial security and emotional stability don’t appear to be regular parts of my life.  Though maybe by my age they should be.

I thought a lot about this last night.  I couldn’t sleep. An itching that wouldn’t let me be, trying to figure out where my life was taking me.  I guess a self induced session of self reflection brought on by another birthday.  Forty-six.  Middle aged.  Time to grow up?  I think not.

What then?

At this stage in my life, I should have some labels.  There’s comfort in that.  I lost the one of Mother when my son went off to college.  OK, then.  How about my career?  Outfitter.  No more.  Guest Ranch owner/operator.  Barely.  Ditch Digger.  Yes, but… It is somehow lacking in, well, finesse for a middle aged woman. Writer?  I’ll take it. Writer.   I use that term daringly with great expectation and demands placed upon myself.  Too often I have trouble believing that what I give is worthy.  Who doesn’t?  Anyone who contemplates the meaning of life, their point and purpose, will question their self worth.  Won’t they?  And yet, many days I feel I have nothing to give… but words.

Pardon me if that sounds too plumped with self pity. I don’t really need the violins brought in for this.  What am I trying to say then?

Something about confidence.  Or lack thereof.  I read the words of others who have found success with their writing (and yes, success is a relative term, so here I mean that which brings one a sense of purpose and by which one feels defined), and compare them those of us (yes, that would be me…) who still do not believe in ourselves, or believe we have something worthy of giving.

This does is not make me feel worse about my state of being as not-yet-successful-writer, but rather, challenges me to grow up. Oh no!  Become that person. Start being today the person you wish to be tomorrow.  For what is the difference between she and me?  It is not in the number of books she has published and I have not, though I have used that as an excuse for the past few years.  It is in the voice that speaks back when I look in the mirror.  How easy it is to forget we are in charge of that voice. I need not look ahead with down cast eyes and hushed words and whisper, “Yes, I write…”  Perhaps it is time to look straight ahead, boldly make contact with the grey eyes staring back at mine, and speak in a loud and joyous voice, “Yes!  I am a writer!  And I am honored to share my words!”

Man, that sounds good at least.

34 thoughts on “What brought it on…

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about those labels as well. I suspect people who are more comfortable with themselves, use their name as their label. The rest of us struggle with acquisition and loss of identity, depending on our stage of life. I, too, am learning to embrace “writer”, which is closer to and more reliable for my “self” than anything else.

    Very thoughtful post – thanks!

    • Thanks so much, Green. There is a post by another blogger I read months ago, McKenzie Kincaid is her name, and I’ll have to look back and find that post – addressing the matter of us calling ourselves WRITER. Another powerful perspective. Her premise: if we write (a little bit of living, breathing and loving the process) we are writers. Embrace the label.

  2. Is leaving or having a legacy, a valuable should? What if the value in the labels, like clothes tried on when shopping, is at issue? My question led me to ask the next question, what value in clothes?

    • Interesting point to raise, Elisa. My first thought is “no value in clothes,” but I catch myself. Clothes too represent our labels. Mine being worn Levi jeans and cowboy boots. But that is ME. So yes, clothes hold definition and labels… but what about value? Value of comfort in able to find ourselves fitting into the picture in which we are comfortable; placing others in a picture we see they belong? What else? And what damage?

      • ah…clothing for me is simple covering that keeps me alive, there may be times, due to utility that I might alter them to suit a fragment of a purpose, digging in dirt–old torn clothes

        Task and function in life, are simply that. There will always be input/output. I will always be what I came with. I will be that when I leave this Earth. It amuses me endlessly the insistence on labels, the aversion of labels. Even to the word. Buzzwords everywhere trying to be, trying to be what we are not. Leaves will leave the tree. Snow will fall down. No matter what we do. No matter clothes, no matter what we call what we think we do and are in any moment. I like to notice how I just don’t matter, at all. Unless it’s to amuse myself :)

        • I daresay you are far more solid with your state of being than most. I try to live with few labels, but find a comfort in some. Self definition. Not for others as much as for me. And yet, think about how we do judge others on their dress. Does that influence your choice to try to find no judgment in appearance? Living label free! I wonder if that alone brings labels and judgment. Just seems like we use these things to get through our day, relate to the people around us, understand ourselves. The purity of living label free… I commend you for that.

  3. New to this world of writing, I have found myself pondering that label as well. Most days I embrace it and it gives me umph to plunge into the unknown. This inspires me even more. Thanks…
    And yes, you are a writer!

  4. Hi, Gin, that second water picture is amazing. It shows clearly, to my eye, the comet nature of water and what an amazing interstellar substance it is. So many water photographs concentrate on its movement, but what is the movement? Gravity, not water. Water is something else, very elastic and electric. You’ve portrayed some of that, which is very powerful and inspiring. I’m sorry to hear that in your life you, too, are wrestling with the writer demon, as I have for many decades. If I may say, from long and tangled history with words and all their fits and starts and heights and lows, accepting the mantle is powerful magic, but, well, then what? Writing has three faces, I think. One is personal. Contemporary North American society has lots of words for that. In fact, it often labels things as personal which aren’t, really. Spiritual life for one. Such as your water. One is social — perhaps the one that is hard to wrestle with in a society that constrains the social dimensions of writing. Representations of writing can be so at odds with the personal dimension of writing. One is spiritual. I don’t mean Christian-spiritual, although it can certainly be that. I mean, related beyond self and society to the earth and the universe. You have that, powerfully. In that photograph, for instance, you found space and time for it to shine through. How to relate that spiritual dimension to the personal and the social, ah, that’s the struggle, but I hope you know that you’re not alone, and the struggle is affirmative. There’s a whole world of such spirit wrestlers. I, for one, read your pieces with excitement, knowing that out here, in the real world, eyes and heart such as yours are coming together into an expanded image of the world, and I am not alone in the dark and, in fact, it is not dark. Does this particular writing-nature fit into the social dimensions prescribed for writers? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It does, however, expand them, in a living way. I hope that we are replacing it with, as Gary Snyder put it, the Real Work. You are. Thank you. Be blessed. I hope you know you are. Best, Harold

    • And a new friend, Harold, that I am sincerely enjoying beginning to know. Much to learn from your words here, Harold, and I thank you for sharing your insight and experience (though you leave me wanting to know more). I could dedicate an entire post to a response to your comment here.
      I’m intrigued with the freezing process of water more so than the flow. It may be selfish in a way – this way the water stays here with me, rather than passes by so quickly. Like rain soaking into the soil, rather than running off the hillside in a muddy wash. It may be too because for half our year here, there is more water frozen than running. The time in between, the formation period, is especially intriguing. A few years back, on a particularly low snow year that allowed for seeing such things, I observed a stick and rock in a creek bed covered each day with a bit more ice as the invisible trickle of the still live water set layer upon layer of ice. I will try to find that photo and share it with you.
      As for writing…I am currently battling… yes, as you put it, another spirit wrestler… Only I am somehow wanting the solid state of having my work well received and recognized. Selfish? Possibly. Egotistical? Probably. Years of rejection from articles and manuscript are getting to me. Will they stop me from writing? Never. Will they direct more what and how I write? That is where the Spiritual comes in to play, isn’t it, Harold? For no, I will not change that. Maybe stubborn. But I can’t just write for the sake of selling. Though selling my work does bring a more concrete factor that I put importance on. Is this wrong? Where are you at with your writing demons?

  5. You are a writer .If you never publish a book many will always remember your words .Look into that mirror and be proud of what you see .Your words haved helped a lot of people in hard times .I for one was helped in my hardest time .Just move forward with your writing and photos !!

  6. Hello Beautiful Blogger Award Recipient. I hope my mention in Pink Coconuts and the Best Reality Show Ever brings some readers your way. I really love how your voice and photography are so REAL.

    • Oh, Broadside, how kind you are. A confession: My first memoir is already complete, though still sittig on the desk of an agent unable to sell it. I try not to take it personally, but really, what else can I do?

  7. Yes, you are a writer!! And I’m a reader…sitting at my table in front of a laptop drinking coffee waiting to read your words!!! Keep it up sister!! You are my link to what my heart and soul longs for!!! And hell yeah to the log splitter…we ain’t gettin any younger!!!

  8. What brought it on… you may well ask Gin! You’ve obviously touched a dormant chord with your words looking at the response you’ve received.

    That alone should be reason for you to keep on writing :)

    • Thank you, Sheri. And I am one who believes there are no writers without readers, artists without views, cooks without hungry people to share a meal. A teacher once told me, “Art is not created in a void.” Big words for my simple writing, I know, but I think you get the point. We’re all in this together!

  9. A PS
    Everytime I think That we are having hard times I watch “Grapes of Wrath “. When I was young we picked crops to buy school clothes .You didnt work you wore old clothes .Being the oldest of 5 children sometimes my mother and I did not eat so the little kids had food .We survived .So when we are short of money now I think back on how things used to be and watch the movie on how people had worst times than we did and give thanks for what we have now no matter how little .We dont miss a meal and have a roof over our head and are able to pay our way even though after having to retire we dont have a lot we are thankful for what we have .

    • I appreciate your insight, Don. That is real… all you have seen, done and been through… and you know the difference between these and hard times. I was appalled this morning to read one person’s reaction to the election, stating, “We are doomed!” A young lady who has more than adequate wealth who probably doesn’t even know someone who cannot work, and certainly does not know the true meaning of the word “hungry.” I call that spoiled and ignorant. Complain about all we have? Based on what, and for what reason? What real fears? How dare she…

  10. Pingback: Writing With the Land | Okanagan Okanogan

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