More than ten years ago a friend sent me an email that said, among other things:
"You then and your whirlwind existence, always doing a balancing act between fame and a life leading to fame. A retreat then, into the fog, until you clear that large brain and discover who you are to yourself more than to everyone else.
What nonsense I write in your praise, when you know every bit as much as myself that you are only absorbing for now until the "Big Bang" as it were - your discovery to the rest, the benefit of the others, the general populace!"
Although the friendship faded, as they sometimes do, I taped this email into my journal and never forgot it. The friend who wrote me this note was a frenzied artist himself, and endeared himself to me with his singleminded focus - as well as his own large brain, which was often spinning many revolutions faster than everyone else's. Years later, I often think of his reference to the "Big Bang" and the power of suggestion.
I always believed in my friend, and secretly believed (hoped) he was right about me and what I knew he was referring to: my writing. For one of his birthdays I wrote him a book we both starred in and after he read it, we had an uncharacteristically serious talk. "It will be a huge waste if you don't do something with your gift, you know."
We talked again a year or so later after I wrote a second book in which he had a starring role. I remember him sitting cross-legged on the floor of my apartment, reading it start to finish, even though he kept saying he had to go. He only stopped, God bless him, to tell me at the very end that my book was great. He couldn't stop reading because it gave him shivers.
Several years ago my friend asked me one day in the university where we worked, "So when are you going to earn what you deserve?" I knew the answer wasn't in the halls of the university, but I didn't know how to answer the question. Would I ever be paid what I deserved? What did I deserve? I still hadn't figured out what I wanted to do (but knew the answer didn't lie in a job title of "Secretary"). The clue didn't seem to be in my inspiration for a book of poems subtly titled, "Death of a Secretary", either...though maybe it was.
This week I met up with a friend I have known since I was eleven. We actually met through his cousin, although the friendship with her didn't stick. My friend and I talked about business and as always I talked at length about my many ideas. Ideas beget new ideas and then my ideas tend to crowd around each other and obscure the way forward...because there are so many possibilities, all of them good! So many paths I could take, even when I finally focus everything down to this: I want to write. I want to write all day long. I want to play with words and edit other people's writing, too. This would make me happy.
After sharing some of my ideas for a time my friend asked, "Have you done enough research yet?" I laughed. "You love research!" I said. And it's true, he does. I should know because I have been editing his well-researched books for six years. "I do, but research is a form of procrastination!" I know, I know. I've always read a lot more about things than made firm decisions and stuck with them.
But that is changing...and today I take the above quotes from the men who spoke them. Take them with me as I make some firm decisions, and move forward.
There is other news in my writing life. Lots of it. But for today, meditation on friendship, support, belief, encouragement, and alignment with who we are and where we are going. Amen.