The Early-Morning Dark

What happened to the gusto I had in my twenties? That time of life when I could commit to reading The Artist’s Way and to following some of the cruel and unusual creative practices within its pages. One such practice included getting up before dawn to actually freewrite for some ungodly number of minutes. I committed to this for maybe a solid month when I was 24 or so. In the dark, living in my small Seattle apartment, a short bus ride from downtown, I’d pray, pen in hand, to the gods of creativity and growth. I’d write almost unceasingly for those ungodly endless minutes – before coffee, before a cigarette, before the sun was willing to rise. It felt like boot camp for writers, and I loved the pain, the feeling of something building inside, a slow, ninja-like discipline.

I used to could do that stuff (wording intentional) when I was “that age.” I could do such things almost effortlessly. I had abundant energy and an enormous amount of idealism. And yes, much of that idealism was naivety, but that naivety made me feel unstoppable.

At 43, I have my own version of gusto, which often includes a day when I skip my nap. You might think I am kidding, but I nap almost every day. I am an introvert with the capacity for leaking enough emotional energy to cause a potential health hazard – and this is often daily – and I have a 5-year-old, and I get up and teach in front of people. I actually stand up in front of others, talking and everything…..in front of people. It’s true. This is an energy-draining, albeit exhilarating, practice for me.

At any rate, as is often the case, I seem to have gone off track a bit. Fortunately, no one else is reading this. Um, I mean…

What I mean is…I want some of that dedication to rising more than an hour before the sun back. Some of that adventurousness. The same adventurousness that allowed me to walk four blocks down city streets in the dark – at 5 a.m. – to bake bagels, during my days as a bagel shop manager. Back in the day when I wasn’t actually scared of so many bad things. Before I knew how many bad things could truly, truly happen. Before I lived in a world where someone as openly racist and sexist could be a genuine candidate for the job of President. See what I did there? I got off track again. Donald…you menace.

I am on a journey this year to rekindle a bit of that gusto. To hole up a few of the bigger leaks. To find my place back to the early-morning dark.

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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