"Write, write, write," he said. Ignore the wind and the waves and write.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A second pebble...

From my war satchel of wisdom comes another thought:

I can not achieve the ultimate goal of life, which is, by the way, Life itself.

I used to think I could, should, and definitely would obtain that prize. I thought I deserved it for being so good. People adored me because I was so cute. And all good things would come to me since I was so unjustly mistreated.

When I was about nine I went to Gillespie Pool in our neighborhood of El Cajon, California. My siblings were with me, somewhere, but the pool teamed with all manner of swim-capped girls and buzzed-cut boys, so we were soon separated. Nothing is quite so lonely as a child in an independent crowd of children.

But, I lived many days alone in my mind and now, comfortably developed a game for myself. I would swim across the pool, without stopping, taking as few of breaths as possible. It was a goal. Not a life's goal, but a huge task since I was a new swimmer. I decided to swim in water over my head, since fewer children played there.

I swam hard. One breath, two, then three, then...someone caught me by the ankle. It must be my sister, but I turned to see a teenage boy. I smiled. Did he want to play? Then I saw his face cloud dark with anger. He spit water as he spoke. "Watch where you're going!" He twisted my foot in his two hands, wrenching my ankle.

Searing pain shot from my foot to my knee. Fear and confusion washed over me as I sunk beneath the water. I couldn't get my bearings at first and then struggled to reach the surface. What if he was still there, waiting to hurt me again?

I couldn't remember how to swim. I sunk again and choked on the water as I opened my mouth to cry out from the pain and the humility. I don't know how I made my way to the edge of the pool. I hung from the side,crying mournfully as children screamed with fun around me. I peered from time to time in each direction, wondering if the my attacker would return.

I don't know to this day what happened to that poor kid. Had I unknowingly kicked him in the groin? It was a crowded pool. Maybe someone else did and he thought it me--I can't say. He was too mad for me to think his fury wasn't based on some injustice or harm. But, at the time, I only knew I had been stomped by a big kid--even though I was cute and worthy of his long-suffering.

How quick we are to dismiss our own short-comings.

My efforts to perfect my swimming techniques were trashed. And oddly, no matter the fervency and sober righteousness of my training and goal setting, I actually brought about my own failure--I guess. I mean, maybe there is a man somewhere in the world who lost a testicle in Gillespie Pool that day! Maybe I kicked right by him, totally unaware of the grief I had caused.

Who knows?

But this I do know- We all fall short of the glory of God. And that truth, my dear walking friend,is why I know none of us will reach that ultimate finish line--not wihtout intervention.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Long Hand

I miss writing with a pen.

One time, many years ago, I told a friend that I could not think without a pen in my hand. I long for the days that the inspiration from a stick-in-hand could fill a page, or even just my head, with order and light.

Mrs. Alexander, my composition teacher at Grossmont Junior College, promised we undergrads that if we would order our thoughts on paper, we would benefit from the exercise with clear thinking. Tall, slender, and fashionably dressed, I believed her. As I recall, she would straighten giant-framed, Yves St Lauren glasses on her nose while changeling bracelets danced on her wrist.

I remember, in particular a pale pink dress with a white lace collar. You have to believe someone wearing a white lace collar, after all. And, she was right.

I chose to leave her class for a full-time job managing a sweater store. I hated to leave. She knew that. She asked me why I made that choice. I said my husband was in school and we needed the money. She nodded and said I was a good writer. Then she told me she wouldn't be there next semester as she had cancer.

I'm not sorry I left school to return to work full time, but...sometimes I wonder.

You were a beautiful woman, Mrs. Alexander. Thanks for the tip.