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Archive for May, 2011

Starting Back Small

I’m crawling back from the place I have been, the place I had to go to try and finish creating something I’d started. “Had to” as in obligated, required, pretty much necessary. “Creating” as in describing, assembling, analyzing, refining, repackaging. A lot of it was dry, tedious, hand-numbing work. It required me to be in a land in which I had to use a different voice, speak a different language, one that doesn’t slide easily off my tongue. A planet I’ll have to visit again all too soon, but hopefully not for as long.

While I was gone it became harder and harder to find this voice, the one that lives here. Eventually I couldn’t hear it at all. When I thought about this blog, this thing that I very much felt the loss of, I had nothing. I was blank. Couldn’t think of anything to offer, even though life was continuing to unfold.

I’m starting back small, trying to remember what this voice sounds like, feels like.

Pogo reminded me recently that people who scale Mt. Everest often report feeling nothing but exhausted when they get to the top. Not elated, not victorious, not woo-hoo! Just tired. And anxious about making it down. That’s what it felt like to turn in a 358-page manuscript draft that in one iteration or another had been in my life for more than a decade: a little relieved, mostly tired, and anxious nevertheless. I dream at night that old, powerful men are flipping through its pages with critical eyes and pursed, judging mouths. I worry about it. I know it won’t be done done for, reasonably, another year if it makes it through reviews and revisions. I worry about “the worst” happening and being cut free from this whole, weird academic life that I’ve never been sure fits me anyway.

And in the wake of that I have maybe a sense of what post-partum depression feels like.

All the same: It is spring. We had lots of rain in the last month. All the soft buds and leaves have been blossoming, uncoiling. I have been blessed with elements of new life–sunshine, warmth, good company, laughter. Some days I want to hide in a cave and just abide in the dark quiet for awhile. Other days I have the sense of waking up and reentering life. I am trying to trust that all the work has been, will be for something. Starting back small.

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