Maitri Libellule

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier.

The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."

~ Margaret Young ~

I live with piles of books all around me, the current ones I am reading and a number of them that I go back to for quotes or references when I am writing. I have thousands of books collected over many decades. The thing that always amazes me, and I'm sure you all have experienced this as well, is that you can read the same book ten times and each time you read it, it's almost like you are reading a different book. The book hasn't changed, you have.

I have been a journal-writing teacher for over thirty years. I have seen it time and time again with now somewhere in the thousands of students, and I always told them the same thing. Some exercises, like the one I shared a few entries back, "At this very moment..." which is a standard exercise that many writing teachers use to just get the pen moving, is really not only the bedrock of our writing foundation, but a touchstone in our lives. If you were to write "At this very moment..." every day for a year, and a year later go back and read all of them, you would have probably felt, before starting, that not much changed from day to day, and that overall it had been, given no extenuating circumstances beyond our control occurring, pretty much the same old, same old. What you would find would be very different.

What you would find would be that not only does each day shift a little, over the course of a year you have shifted quite a lot. Track that over five years, over ten, and you would simply be dumbfounded. As a person who has hundreds of journals in boxes and lived very close to this process since I was a young girl, I am acutely aware of the fact that huge changes are happening over time, but as they are happening over time, we don't see them or feel them, unless we encounter one of life's heart-wrenching circumstances like the death of a loved one, the loss of a child, a close friend who was like family, a divorce, loss of a job you felt would be your lifetime job when you had never thought of or prepared for anything else, unless those kinds of things happen to you, you are shape-shifting all the time, in every moment and are, for the most part, completely unaware of what is happening.

So through these difficult days and weeks and months with my poor mother's decline stepping up it's pace every single day, it has been one of those times when someone sits down and takes stock. A time when one notices things that they hadn't stopped to look at before.

I wrote, just last night, on my Unimaginable Dreams Made Manifest blog, that I was coming to the time in my life when much that I had been dreaming and hoping for all of my life was about to start happening, but that after I go over the first big hump, it will be a tremendous lot of work to do, meaning the foundation will have been laid to allow me to do the work, but the hardest part will begin when I finally face and have to live out the, "If only I could..." Well, now I'll be able to, now I'll actually have to, and all of a sudden I was scared to death.

And so last night I "slept on it," or rather slept on it and half way on a pug who is always attached to my person and I am either leaning against him or he is halfway on top of me. I thought about the dreams and wondered if I had done what I needed to all of these years to prepare properly for what lies ahead. I mean I'm 55 after all and while I don't consider that old, have never been worried about age, and am in good health, I am also very well aware that as the years keep marching onward (and there's been a lot of marching already...) you have less time to get things done. It's time I started.

So, circling back around to the beginning of this piece, I found this quote, and it made me sink into my chair and take a big sigh of relief. I have done exactly what I was supposed to in her definition of what you need to do to achieve what you want, but I did not do it consciously, more to the point, and as the poet Louise Bogan was often quoted as saying, "Let life do it." meaning that you needn't worry so much about what to do about every little detail, life will just be what it will be for you, and sweep you along downstream, and there will be a sense of momentum that comes from you know not where. So "Life did it," in the manner of my having been a mother raising and homeschooling three children and all the while, right next to them, I was writing, publishing in magazines and newspapers, I had three small presses and a rubber stamp business, I did art of all sorts and I was always doing "my work"right along with them as they did their school work. A decade ago my husband and I separated and my kids grew into their own lives and met their partners or spouses and I have spent a very hard decade both financially and trying to figure out what I was going to do, and then it came to me, I have been doing it all along.

I had to be all of who I was because what else can you do? I lived my way forward through college, marriage, children, and onward, being the best person I could be with all of my oddities and idiosyncrasies, trying hard not to make the mistakes my parents had but making my own instead, and all along the while I was doing what I needed to do without realizing it. What a shock to realize you might have done something right, even if it was by accident. When you are a SAHM (Stay at home mom.) you are sadly not taken seriously, although thank God I see this changing all around me, and my writing and art were thought of as "nice little hobbies" and because everyone else treated me and what I was doing that way, and even though I knew inside that they weren't just "hobbies" but my life's work, I kind of felt embarrassed and while I kept trudging on and my belief in myself was strong, I finally stopped talking a lot about it to those closest to me who pretty much just had that, "There she goes again..." attitude when I started writing another novel or small business or whatever, but I knew, as I have known these past ten years on my own, that I was, indeed, working toward something. I was doing it in order, and not the reverse, and of course in order works differently for each and every one of us.

So here I am. I have raised my family. I am divorced and have teetered through the past decade pretty much just hoping I would survive, and I have made it through to a place where I will now have a kind of security I haven't known in my life, where decisions will be in my own hands, and I will have the wherewithall to lead the simple, gentle little life I've always wanted, surrounded by my animals and my garden, writing and doing my art, praying and meditating and having my quiet little "barefoot ministry," wherein I can walk metaphorically barefoot through the world touching anyone I can with love and kindness, and, considering the whole world my "congregation," for lack of a better way to put it, no matter what their religion or spiritual path or none at all, I will love those I meet, pray for all and sundry, and finally be able to take myself and my work seriously because there is no one to tell me that I can't.

I have been, all along, who I really am, warts and all, I have done, inasmuch as I've been able, to do what I've needed to do, and now I am at the the threshold I will soon cross into the life that I want and it will all have happened just exactly as it should have. I "Let life do it," even when I didn't know I was doing so.

And so here I am, at the crossroads. I know which path I will take...

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