My life isn’t what I’d call tumultuous.
I have old friends and new, and a day job I’m passionate about with retirement in sight. I pass few cars on my daily ten-minute commute through Midwest farmland. I’ve been happily married for a long time, a definite blessing during rough years. While I remember the elation of a new romance, breakups were hard. The comfort of a strong bond is more appealing than any added excitement. My kids are young adults now, but I remember the drama of their teenaged years. They survived and thrived, and I wish them the same calm I have.
Though I know many tales of grief, adventure and heartbreak, they are the stories of others. They are not mine to tell.
I’ve experienced less trauma than some but have suffered my share of tragedy. It rarely appears in my writing. I could dredge up a young heartbreak or magnify the anger I felt toward the doctor who told me that my father died, but I’ve made peace with the past. I don’t bleed much on the page.
During some difficult years, interspersed with wonderful ones, I developed a theory. When you are suffering, at some point it will get better. The reverse is also true. Life is a timeline of peaks and valleys. If things are tough, this too shall pass. If days are good, why not enjoy it? There is every indication that it will only last so long.
In All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum has an essay on problems and inconveniences. When Fulghum complains about the irritations of his job, an older man, an Auschwitz survivor, explains the difference. Issues like food scarcity and war outrank annoying coworkers and getting cut off in traffic.
Life-changing problems make for gripping fiction, but my personal essays are peppered with mere inconveniences. I live in the present, occasionally dwelling in small moments from the past, sending out ripples rather than crashing waves.
So, I write the ordinary, the odd encounter, and those moments that catch you by surprise. I have the leisure of a quiet existence to see connections between strands of time and weave them into story. As I describe this blog, I write about the things I think about as I walk my dog and walk through life.
When I reach the top of the next hill and begin the inevitable slide back down, I’m sure that words on the page will follow. In the meantime, I’ll rejoice in the everyday moments that make up my days.
The view outside my window may be flat, but the sky is often spectacular.