July is the hottest month, breeding
weeds in my tulip pots, mixing
energy with ennui, stirring
deck chairs with thunderstorms.
You can see I’ll never be T.S. Eliot, and for that, I suppose, we should all be grateful. But seriously, it’s that time of year when I can scarcely make myself venture into the balcony to water my weeds – I mean plants – before sundown. The evening stretches late into the night, and then I lean on the railing and admire the lights of my city, and feel fortunate.
Summer is also the time family visits. That means a lot of cooking delicious food! And a lot of washing up. Yesterday, confronted by my third pile of dishes for the day, before dismay could set in (Gah, more dishes?), I did a mental exercise of why I was thankful for this chore:
I was thankful that I had dishes to wash. That I had free-flowing tap water to wash them in, and light to see what I was doing. That we had all had enough food to eat beforehand, necessitating the dish-washing. That tomorrow, I could rest assured that, barring unforeseen accidents, I would still have this task, made easy by all the conveniences of living in a modern city.
And I got to thinking that writing words is a little bit like washing dishes. If you think about it too narrowly, it can feel like a chore, like one more task added on to everything else in your hectic day. Especially when you’re trying to write words at 1 am in the morning because hey, guess what, that’s the only time you’re going to have, and you have a deadline to meet.
But expand your thinking a bit, and you see writing for what it truly is: a gift. To yourself, if no one else. I write words because I can and I must, because not writing them would be like missing a meal – or several meals. I’d feel all hollow and anxious inside.
I am thankful that I have words to write, stories to dream up, a novel to edit, and books to dive into when I need to re-charge or escape. I am thankful because I wanted to be a writer all my life, and so many other things kept getting in the way, and now I understand that it is all right for other things to get in the way. It’s called life.
I will probably never fulfil my childhood fantasy of writing in a cottage, sitting in solitary splendor at a carved wooden desk with multiple hand-bound diaries and pens, a large window in front, looking out into a quiet garden.
Here I am, surrounded by clutter in a tiny condo, working at a desktop, with a balcony full of weeds, and a family to feed. But the quiet garden is inside me. I guess that’s all that matters.