The Plow

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“The Plowman” (Winslow Homer)

The thing about Griselda is she works when I do. If I’m off, she goes…elsewhere; but she’s always back when I’m at my desk, or making notes on paper assuming I’ll be able to read them later…which I won’t because…well, I’ll save that  for another time.

***

I’ve been practicing Hatha Yoga for decades. Four to five mornings a week, once my breakfast has settled, I do a fifteen minute flow to keep my frame limber and strong, and my nerves soothed.

Almost two weeks ago, as I was coming out of the Plow pose, I felt something in my back move in a direction it was never meant to go.

***

You read a lot when you have to spend 10 out of every 90 minutes with an ice pack, first on the side of the initial injury, then on the side that wrenched in response. And days later, when you switch from ice to heat, you reach for a book because you get sick of watching movies and binging on TV series.

I actually did manage to get some writing done when I was finally able to sit at my desk for more than 20 minutes without pain, but mostly I read.

And I came away from those books, all fiction, all of which had garnered enthusiastic praise by reviewers, wondering what I was missing, and whether there was still a place for my voice (such as it is) among all that is recognized as worthy these days. Yes, I know, it could have been the muscle spasms talking, but knowing that didn’t help. It put me in a funk. So, I looked for Griselda, and found her on a velvet swooning couch watching a badly degraded copy of The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.

In spite of the funk, I watched it with her, and, for some odd reason, felt better afterward.

***

It’s almost 5:30 here, and according to my Fit Bit, I’ve logged 3,000 steps doing laps around the kitchen and dining room. I was also on my feet for over an hour this afternoon peeling and slicing apples for a large pan of crisp (now baked and making the kitchen smell heavenly), and I’m still able to sit at my desk without pain.

Ptui, ptui, ptui.

But, I’ve decided to eliminate the Plow, and it’s demonic sibling, the Supported Shoulder Stand, from my flow, when I’m ready to go back to it. There are enough planks and other neutral spine poses to keep me flexible and toned. I think my back will appreciate that. I know Griselda will.

She is fond of plows, but prefers those that turn the earth, ready the soil for seeds of all varieties. For her, it’s all about what takes root, what grows, and what thrives. She’s funny that way.

©2019 All Rights Reserved

 

 

One? Or Two?

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Choral Fantasy (From one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s sketchbooks)

If you wear glasses, you’re familiar with that part of the eye exam when your doctor lowers a phoropter into position in front your face and starts flipping between lenses, asking, “Which is better? One? Or two? One? Or two?”

***

I finished my novella about seven weeks ago, and immediately started working on what I assumed was going to be a stand-alone sequel.  Five thousand or so words in, it occurred to me that maybe I should merge the two short books into a longer one, to make my work more marketable.

So, I cut and pasted and combined, wrote lengthy notes to myself and revised my notes, and forged ahead.

Then yesterday, I spent an hour giving my reimagined novel-in-progress an honest look.

Have you ever seen a movie that veers off in a new direction midway through, abandoning the original story line, and, occasionally, characters, leaving you feeling like you’ve just seen two completely different movies that have been stuck together with library paste? That’s the way I felt reading my draft.

***

So, now you’re probably wondering why there’s a page from one of Beethoven’s sketchbooks at the top of this post. Well, as you can see, Ludwig scratched out a lot of what he wrote. And I can envision him, at points during the creation of this sonata/symphony/concerto/quartet or that, flipping between pages of his books and thinking, “Which is better? One? Or Two? One? Or Two?”

***

Sometimes, one is better. And, other times, two are better than one.

(Stowing library paste.)

©2018 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Wrong Way

arrow communication direction display

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you ever found yourself heading in the wrong direction down a one-way street?

That happened to my mother when she was driving me to a late rehearsal in Manhattan. It was the first rehearsal, and she was unsure of the best route to our destination, so she made a wrong turn.

I was nine, and I remember exactly three things about that turn: the volume of rush hour traffic heading toward us; my mother’s curses in three different languages; and the speed with which she spun the car around and got us off the road.

She was a good driver, my mother—focused and assured, with marvelous instincts and steady nerves, and loved to be behind the wheel. In all her years of driving, she never had an accident.

But that’s beside the point.

She knew, as soon as she made that turn, she would have to change course.

The times we should do that are not always so clear. We rationalize away warning signs, and tolerate unpleasant treatment and sometimes dangerous conditions telling ourselves we’re exaggerating, misinterpreting, being silly, or even at fault. And we tell ourselves things will get better, because, occasionally, they do. We get a small raise or a little praise. There’s that one night pizza doesn’t make us sick, and nuts do not cause a rash. Or, the phone call from a lover, who’s broken our hearts more often than not, comes after six months of silence.

It gives us all the reasons we need to doubt the truth…

…until the boss goes back to being a greedy, unappreciative, or abusive lout; or there’s a sleepless night dealing with indigestion and hives, or worse; or the lover acts like an entitled, condescending ass before disappearing again.

That’s when it’s time to change course and get off.

***

We can rationalize creative wrong turns, too.

I did it for fifteen years—working on a book, and writing it in ten different ways before I admitted I had turned down ten one-way streets going in the wrong direction.

That was when I decided to forget it, change course.

And a miraculous thing happened: a new route emerged, a fresh point of view…

…from a character who had been begging to speak.

I spent all those years crafting strained and ludicrous narratives for characters in his orbit who didn’t have his eloquence, awareness, depth, or passion.

What a waste…when the truth was in front of me the whole time.

©2018 All Rights Reserved