Today I made order in my office. For the first time since my husband’s death a year ago, I cleaned my desks. This comes after many times in the past year attempting to press myself forward. My attempts at living are very much like my process of beginning a writing project. I write a paragraph, stop and look at it, think, edit, delete, start again. It is what the author Dixie Browning used to term ‘packing sand’.
When you get your car tires stuck in the sand at the beach, you go forward, back up, go forward, back up. You keep doing this until finally you’ve packed enough length of sand that the car will keep on going up and out of the sand. The process can be helped by throwing a burlap sack under a back wheel. I think my burlap sack was cleaning my desks. I am moving firmly forward now.
I knew I crossed some sort of line toward cultivating my new life when I chose between two mouse pads. I had been using two, one on top of the other ever since I moved into this house. The top one my mother gave me over fifteen years ago. Worn, it was still cute, printed with an office angel to help me through stress. Beneath it was a mouse pad printed with Victorian red and yellow roses, a gift from a writer friend. I tossed the office angel and chose the newer, vibrant, roses. It suits me better now.
I have spent the past year attempting to come to terms with the changes in my life, to cultivate a new life, to find a life of my own in the midst of being tugged between the needs of myself, my grandchildren, and my elderly mother. It’s been the packing sand method, two steps forward, one step back. I’ve come to learn that this is living life. It’s all part of the whole.
On my desk, I came across a number of scribbled notes. Things I planned to do, ideas to help me do them. “Oh, yes…so that was what I wanted to do…and here’s those notes on…”
Below this is printed advice from my friend: “Pretend you’re good at it.”
I’d forgotten. Now I smile.
I’m at my desk, writing again. Pretend I’m good at it.