Monday, January 2, 2017

Finishing The Last

My trusty fountain pen and September's bottle of ink.
Jenna Woginrich (@coldantlerfarm) tweeted this morning that her latest blog entry might help with anxiety. I began the morning anxiously struggling with my wifi-connected thermostat which refused to wifi-connect and was feeling in need of a balm. As water heated for coffee, I read her post about old matchboxes in which only a single match remains.
These are for her “luck pieces, borderline sacred.” She depends on them and saves the last match for dire circumstances. The last match, having survived the lottery, is honored and she waits until a deep need comes along. Then she strikes the match and perhaps lights a single candle by which to meditate her way back to calm.
It’s a lovely way of thinking and completely antithetical to my own. I used a match to light three candles by which I am handwriting this essay. The box dwindles one match per day and I will be into spring before using the last one, a moment I will savor.
Finishing something, using the last of it, is my ritual. I use lip balms to the end and smile that I haven’t lost them over the winter. With my short, thinning hair, a bottle of shampoo lasts almost a year and finishing such a long-term project feels good. Reading the last page of a book is like walking to the podium to receive a gold medal. I hear the band playing my song.
My favorite is draining a bottle of ink. I write with a refillable fountain pen and buy 3-ounce bottles of ink. The ink is 28mm high in the bottle, down from 40mm on December 4. I’ll finish the bottle in March and know that I’ve written 3 ounces of words since September 1. That I have kept the same pen, not spilled any ink, and seen my way through several thousand pages to the bottom of the bottle inspires me.
I don’t always believe in myself or credit my accomplishments. I’m more focused on my mistakes and shortcomings. A bottle of ink emptied written onto pages over seven months proves I’m dependable, persistent, careful, and able. I don’t know anyone who writes even a disposable pen empty let alone one who goes through bottles of ink. This sets me apart and reminds me that I am unusual and perhaps in some small way extraordinary. That’s a reminder I need.
There are no lucky or sacred matches in my life. I don’t keep empty ink bottles. I savor the moment of finishing then begin again, refilling my pen from a new bottle of ink. I stare at the full bottle, thinking of the months it will take to reach the bottom. How many words and pages? Who will I be by the time it is all gone?

Emptying the bottle feels good, but not as good as the continued scratch of my pen across the page. Having heard what the empty bottle has to tell me, I look at the new bottle and hear myself whisper, I’ll keep writing.