It Takes A Season
This Moment Shall Pass
I step into the cold, yes, actual cold
People don’t believe how the desert freezes,
but snow glows on the teeth of our mountains
My breath visible and in this cold I know
there is nothing new; nothing I haven’t seen
Yet everything is other, alien
The rustle of air through the trees speaks the wind’s truth,
whispers a tale, a warning this moment shall pass
What memory will I take?
I take stock of where I am with my business and my writing quarterly. Am I on track with book projects? Have marketing and sales plans worked? What have I learned over the recent months? While I don’t share my goals or my results with anyone, it’s important for me to keep track of both. Otherwise I drift.
It’s too easy to become so busy I accomplish little. This past winter felt like that. I worked every day but produced nothing. I felt busy. There are too few hours in the day and days in the week. I’m still revising the draft of a novel I finished in October. I just sent a few short stories out I drafted during the fall. Why does it seem to take a season to move from one step to the next?
To help with these days of self doubt and inadequacy, I keep a journal of the work I do. When I’m taking stock, I can look back at each day’s effort. I see the evidence of my work done.
And yes, it takes a season.
I wrote three 10,000 word stories and made significant progress on other shorter stories. None of which will see daylight until at least another season has passed.
There were other milestones. I had a short story published. I wrote a lot of poetry and did some deep work planning the next novel.
So there it was, the proof of my work, staring at me.
I still feel it isn’t enough.
Checking Off the Nothings
Glaring white descends the mountain
Dry, baked red buried for enduring months
Ice in my barrow, ice in my marrow
Frost lurks in shadows, summer spaces closed
thin, dark winter narrows opened,
lost seasons, seasons of loss
A few darker days until the light stretches — I wait,
there’s nothing to be done despite the hurry,
the busyness that engulfs
The sky will stretch blue, or huddle close — gray,
the mountain haloed or revealed and
whiter than milk, will cling to that crusted freeze
until the bitter heat of May
Scalped and red-gray, veiled in blue haze
Swimming in summer’s heaving dry waves
I’ll wait in lazy days, checking off the nothings
filling my list of what I’m to do, exposed under glaring sun
I wrote about pruning things that eat time. That helps me feel more productive. Between my journal and the number of books I’ve read, I know empirically I am on track. I’ve done the work I; made the progress I expected. So why does it still feel like it isn’t enough?
Because someone else has done something more. Something I perceive as more. Writer friends have published books. Poet friends are giving readings. My sister regularly runs or bikes farther than I can. I have relatives who are traveling again. My brain tells me I should do all the things.
I must remind myself that this view is a collective picture. A perception of what is, not a prescription for what I must do. I’ll travel again. I’ll get back to running. My book will be published. Those things don’t happen all at once.
Why do we live focused on the things left to do? Even if they are enjoyable and we look forward to them, do they matter more than what we’re doing, or have done?
I want to embrace what I’ve done, the places I’ve gone, and the people I’ve shared with along the way. The past is just as important as the present. Just like my journal illustrates, the past remains in our plans. Because tomorrow will become the present and then the past. If what I’m planning to do is important, then it should still be important after I’ve done it.
There comes a point when the number of days ahead is smaller than those behind. Making each of those coming feel more precious than the last. A dwindling treasure. But that’s not true. Past days remain. Memory travels with us.
I stand wondering
how long my season remains
Grape leaf curled by sun