A Life Lived Without Complaint…

…is not a life truly lived.

I am exceedingly lucky in this life, and I know it. I am handicapped, but it could be much worse.

It is true that I may never drive a car, and in never doing so I’ll lose officially–without ever having gained it–a certain measure of freedom afforded most everyone else. My eyes fail me regularly. Come to me in the mornings–when they’re blurry at best, and struggling to focus, and I’ll tell you all about it. My back is aching right now, as I write, and will continue aching, for a good time to come, because in this weekend of goodness just past I overdid it physically. Too much walking. Too much climbing of stairs. Too much trying to prove to myself I could handle the collective it without admitting to myself that sometimes I need–and must accept–help. Too much… being alive and using my body the way most people use their bodies, while taking such use for granted. These things are also true.

Tonight, I allow myself to complain for just a second. So often–too often in films and literature–the handicapped person is made to seem like the portrait of the non-complainer, willing to take on all the crap he must deal with, as a result of his station, never raising his voice in protest..

That is not me.

And, whether or not you’re handicapped yourself or not, if you’re human, it’s not you, either.

But, in amongst the complaints and the crap, and the junk we must wade through as people breathing air on this planet, a planet which is not quite green enough anymore, and a bit more too carbonated every day, if you get my meaning, there are fleeting moments of goodness (mentioned briefly above) that show us why life is still the best thing going.

There is, for example, this.

I met my dad’s agent tonight. Living with him under a roof where creativity and love are celebrated, I know how hard he worked to find her. And now that he did, I can say she is a  real person, who is kind and smart, and we talked books. And family. And our dogs. And T.V. And pop culture. And the world.

And she showed me a way into my query letter–and out of a corner I’ve long felt I boxed myself into–for which I am extremely grateful.

So even though I’m in pain right now–having dragged my laundry basket up the stairs to begin the wash, an act that took longer and hurt my tender back more than I would have liked–I am able to drag my laundry basket up the stairs, and I began the wash when some among us can not. (It has now finished above me).

Also this weekend I watched, live and in-person with one of my favorite people in the world, while my Seattle Seahawks punched their ticket to the NFC Championship Game. (Remember when I mentioned climbing lots of stairs? Worth it!) In a city where sports mediocrity is the accepted norm, it feels great to delight in a winner.

I understand how lucky I am to live in this country, to be who I am, to have the talents I have, to know the wonderful people I know, even with my deficits.

But just… every now and then… if I complain, hear me out and honor the complaint. Can you do that? I would appreciate it.

Because a life lived without complaint is not a life truly lived.

A Main Character Leaves In A Huff

I thought, What should I write about today? And I came up with what I think is a pretty good poem. As a writer, I’m always hoping my main character will help guide me through his or her story, leading me to its resolution down what can sometimes be a long and circuitous road. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t. it’s usually my fault, and it goes a little something like this.

 

The blank screen of a fresh page mocks

Amid nothing besides night’s darkness and

The tick of a ceaseless clock.

Time travels onward,

A cycle that toys with the mortal,

While my characters, annoyed,

  Sit trapped aboard

A London double-decker.

 

I consider ending them, all of them,

Right here,

The delete button

My own personal wrecker.

“You’re a hypocrite,” I hear the main character yell.

“First you invite us–my family and I–into your  mind.

‘Your story’s fascinating,” you say.

 “One I want to tell.’

And now you threaten us with extinction

Because you have yet to find

Literary distinction,

And you’re not sure we’ll get you there.

Well, fine,

We know when we’re wanted,

And when we’re wasting our time.

We will gladly vacate your mind

And find among your writery lot

Another aspiring writer,

One who’s got

The guts to give us our due,

Who won’t give up

When the edits get tough

Or when the words get stopped up

And won’t flow.”