Friday, February 8, 2013

Cheshire Cat Wisdom

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
 "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
 "I don't much care where--" said Alice.
 "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
 "--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
 "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Lewis Caroll—Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

My dad once told me that the year I was born was the same year that they (my parents) bought the home where they would raise their family (and live for the rest of my mother’s life—and most likely my dad’s as well) and my dad started his own business. “Nothing,” he told me, “as ever been as sweet since.” This, then at age 42, was my dad’s moment.

Sometimes I wonder about my own moment, when it will come, and if it has passed. I know that it wasn’t in London, before I met my husband and I know it wasn’t in Connecticut before three of my children were born, although I really loved both of those chapters in my life.

In few months my babies will go to college, thus closing a chapter in my life and opening a new one. The Cheshire Cat tells us, “Every adventure requires a first step. Trite, but true, even here. “ My girls will start a new adventure and so will I. A friend said to me, “You transitioned so seamlessly into your writing (and away from parenthood.)” She meant it as a compliment, and it is, but the truth is—to continue with the sewing analogy—there has been nothing seamless about the transition. In fact, if my transition was a piece of fabric, I think it would be full of raggedy holes created by the absence of my children. And I would be torn and frayed by all the conflicting ideas—should I get a job? Volunteer? Go back to school? Take a class? Teach a class?

And my writing? Should I throw money into advertising? Should I go to conferences? Go on a book tour? Or should I do what I’ve been doing since I was about eight—what I love to do—and just write stories and hope that readers will find and enjoy my books to fill the raggedy holes my children left behind.

The Cheshire Cat tells us that, “The uninformed must improve their deficit, or die.” But the sad truth is we all die eventually, whether we improve our deficits or not. Death is not a debate, but the deficits are a choice. How we fill the holes is pretty much up to us. Even if we give that job to someone else, it’s still a decision, a choice, that we make. We can take the first step on our adventure—or we can just stay holy (and not in a good/monkish sort of way.)

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