Thursday, July 21, 2016

Catching up with an old friend

Yesterday I had lunch with an old friend.  Maybe friend is too deep a word to describe our limited relationship, but we certainly are of like-mind on many things in life. So we met at a wonderful little natural food cafe and discussed our lives in some depth.

What struck me most about this was how fortunate I felt.  This lovely lady has been abandoned by her entire family and treated poorly.  It is clear that their recent attempts to contact her - after decades of neglect - were just to find out if she is still alive (she's a bit older than I) and maybe ingratiate themselves into her will.  I was horrified.

By contrast, I scrimped and saved to attend a recent conference and gave my credit card a workout paying for the airfare and hotel. When I returned home, I found out that my daughter had picked up my hotel tab! I have little to leave my family but they are active and supportive in my life.

I enjoyed my lunch with my old friend and hope we can get together more often.  Life is just too short for pettiness and acrimony.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Contentment examined

I have never been accused of being emotionally tone-deaf.  I know the full range of human emotion simply from living a full life. I know grief from the deaths of family and friends, some harder to bear than others.  I know joy and love from children, grandchildren and even my silly pets.  I have been enormously satisfied with some of my work and gratified that so much of what I set out to do in life - raising great kids, mastering pottery, writing - I have done. However, it is contentment I find most pleasing.

To be content is more than just being satisfied with things as they are.  To be sure, a certain lack of striving is key to it, but contentment does not rule out the continuing search for excellence, it just makes it more natural.  Contentment comes with a reassurance that one is on the right path, that one can meet whatever may come with equanimity, and that one is simply enough.

I think contentment, with the exception of infancy, is the province of later life.  Youth is too rushed, too worried, too full of ambition. When one is content, one might trade one's body for that of the younger self, but never the mind.  The lessons learned are too valuable, more precious than knees that work painlessly or unlined skin.

Contentment is full of acceptance - of those things missed as well as achieved.  It can acknowledge what might have been and see potential that might have been better used but rests easy in what is. It understands that the past are future are only versions of today.

There are those who have more than I, more money, more family, more friends, more success.  There are many who have less. Contentment has taught me to live without comparison.  For how does one compare the quality of the love one shares with that of another?  Contentment teaches comfort in one's own skin to such as extent that one can reside there without envy, bitterness, or fear.

Today I am content.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The way life leads

Every morning I go into my office and begin writing.  I work on my book about rare genetic disorders and on my blog about the same topic.  I find myself promoting others' work, their research, their endeavors, their papers.  I do this because life has led me down this strange path, away from commercially profitable writing and the pottery I love.

Lately my mind has wandered.  Somewhere amid the ATP energy production and substrate selection and all the different, horrible disorders, my mind is seeking clay.  My fingers can almost feel the moist, smooth, surface give as I turn it on the wheel in my mind.  I toy with the idea of hauling out a bag of clay and doing something, anything with it to scratch this itch.

But I don't.

There is the issue of my arm, which screams in pain just watching someone throw, and the pressing need to finish this book so I can move on.  What to, I have stopped trying to plan.  For plans are for fools.

So everyday, I snap on my office light, pull out my chair, and write.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What a long, strange trip it's been!

 I recently ordered refills for a little gizmo that clamps paper instead of stapling it.  I got it while working for FEMA in Mississippi in the wake of Katrina.  With it, I clamped copies of selected passages from a book I am writing on a class of rare genetic disorders. As I did so, I pondered the strange tangents my life has taken.

I have been, in turns, a wife and mother, a hippie, a potter, a reporter and editor, a Kelly Girl, an activist, a science writer, a divorcee, a grandmother, a homeschooler, a substitute teacher, a photographer, a homeowner, a hitchhiker, a cat lady and a dog owner, a carpooler, a grantwriter, a disaster worker, an ad writer, a novelist, a swimmer, a caretaker, a friend, unemployed, and now, a writer about genetics of all things!

At 20, one does not think one's life will take such diverse paths, and I know, for many, the road is rather straight.  For me, though, my paths have taken me to live in tiny cabins in the woods and in big city apartments, and to work among the poor, and to interview the rich in their fine environs - all the while struggling to raise two daughters, keep my sanity, pay my bills and be creative.  Yet somehow, here I am: in my own modest home with a few sheckles in my pocket and looking forward to a trip that is both business and pleasure.

I have been something of a generalist all my life.  I have made it my work to observe people.  I know what drives them.  I know how they think and what they want.  I know what pains them.  Yet here I am writing on a topic so specialized most people have never heard of it.  Somehow it seems fitting.

What a long, strange trip it's been!