Lying in bed late last night, I waited as my oldest daughter came through to let me know she was still awake and my wife took a shower. I knew I would be tired in the morning getting up early to write. I felt the familiar panic about failing a duty. I've only got six hours thirty-three minutes to sleep! I'd better fall asleep now!
You know how it goes.
Catching myself, I reached for a book to help me rest. I've been dipping into an E.B. White book I've read a dozen times, but instead pulled down Jane Kenyon's last collection of poems trying to remember if I had made it through all of them.
I've been reading Donald Hall's prose memoirs lately. He was Jane Kenyon's husband and saw her through her cancer-riddled end. It was Hall who assembled her final collection of poems and wrote the afterword. I flipped to it and read of Kenyon's birth, development into a poet, and slide through cancer into death. I felt choked up. I even sniffled.
I turned away from the feeling.
For a host of reasons, I've learned to run from strong emotions and see them as weakness. Last night I stopped turning and let myself go into the feeling.
I read "Let Evening Come" and "The Sick Wife" and I could hardly breathe. My eyes filled and maybe a tear rolled down, but I'm not sure because I wasn't measuring the effects, I was living the life. That's no small miracle.
I put the book up on the shelf and closed my eyes. I slipped into sleep that was deep and full.
My therapist tries to help me believe that I can experience things and go on. My anxiety often overwhelms belief but experience is a good companion and last night's turning into the moment helped me wake this morning calm and able to start again. I'm up, the music plays, I have five hundred words drafted, the coffee is a warm and dark comfort.
Not everything is all hunky-dory. I'm still anxious about my job with which I have fallen out of love. I worry I'll never escape it. I wonder what audience cares to read what I write. I still live an anxious life, but I'm learning that I can travel through moods. I'm no longer overwhelmed by Jane Kenyon's two poems. I've moved on. I'm here, going forward, through worry and hesitation. Moods are scudding clouds and every hour the whole sky is rewritten.
I'm up early, pushing forward, trailing a string behind through same interior dark forest. I walk through shadow and sun, the sketch of a map held in my mind. I keep walking, I breathe, I feel myself in this world, and I write on.