A close second was “The Year of Empirical Thinking” — empirical meaning information that is derived from the trials and errors of experience (I’m starting to sound like Niobe here!)
But I digress. I haven’t read Joan Didion’s book yet. It’s on the list. I wanted to finish writing my own before I opened hers. Random House writes that Didion “explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage–and a life, in good times and bad–that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.” Since I was working on a similar theme, I didn’t want to be accused of stealing any ideas. (I know what you’re thinking: PJ you really should have titled this post The Year of Egotistical Thinking!)
While I’m no Joan Didion, my book also explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a life that will speak to anyone who has ever wanted to conceive a child with the one they love. Yep. I finished the third rev of it this week. When I told a friend of the latest iteration she responded immediately, “wow, you must have that thing memorized by now!” Pretty much. I can quote page numbers and conversations contained in it.
As I look back over the year of writing, editing, rewriting and more rewriting — along with random acts of posting on this blog — it occurs to me that the act of getting my thoughts out of my head and down on paper has forced me to look at my life under the harshest of lights. And sometimes what I’ve seen has made me nauseous, surprised, angry and downright sad.
It has also allowed me to unpack some bags. I’ve always found the psychological term baggage funny and appropriate. I envisioned myself exhausted and struggling to haul around trunks and carry-ons and wheeled duffel bags. Some of the stuff contained in those bags was really important to me, but a lot of it is just not needed anymore.
Through my writing I’ve been systematically unpacking, looking through the various items and deciding what’s really needed — not for the life I thought I would be living but for my actual life. Let’s see…I don’t need the mommy mindset anymore. I can ditch the Rockwellian images of the perfect holidays and the stuff from the family camping trips where we would teach our kids to fish and collect leaves and lovely bits of quartz. I can finally get rid of that collection of stuffed animals (I have a really cool stuffed Felix the Cat with tags on it and everything — that I’ll hang on to). The plans for making a great fort out of chairs, blankets, pillows and toilet paper tubes. Gone. Do I really need those sensible shoes for chasing kids around? Hell no, bring in the kicky boots.
And that’s when my wistfulness morphed into a new sense of expectation. Something liberating started to occur — radical thinking. Now that the bags are lighter, I can make room for new dreams.
What useless items are you carrying around that you don’t need anymore? And if that’s too much to face right now, what sort of “cal” year have you had?