Monday, January 11, 2016

The Adventurous 'Life Unexpected' of the Writer

What risks have you taken as a writer? Has your sense of adventure led you “home”. . . or has your adventurousness idled by the roadside, grounding you to one barren and stagnant place?

As I wrote on this blog last week, women writers are creating an anthology with stories and poems that frame the life unexpected . . .

What happened that you never saw coming and how did that change your life?

As writers we explore the "life unexpected". . . its surprises—welcome or unwelcome—unplanned adventures, twists and turns that lead to new discoveries and personal revelations in changing and challenging times.

This "mantra" brings me “home” to Arizona.

How could I know, Arizona, that you would lead me through all the losses? The loss of the whisper of expectation that comes with a new morning; the resignation when possibilities of love begin to fade like a withered rose with age.

In the distance the Catalina Mountains this January morning are covered with a lacy shawl of clouds. For the past 10 years I’ve traveled from the frigid winters of Pennsylvania where it got dark early and left me alone with my thoughts, to this place in the sun.

The Southwest called me like so many wanderers and adventurous and brave women before me. Remember Georgia O’Keeffe?

Here I could forget . . . seek rest from the losses. My husband's gentle touch, my brother's joking voice, my mother's throaty laugh, my father's serene blue eyes.

I think of my mother . . . some might call her a foolish, timid woman, myself included. Mother wouldn't have traveled like I, alone in my sixth decade to a place like this, the exotic, the desert, few friends, no rigid schedule that must be adhered, just soft morning light, fuchsia bougainvillea in bloom, a wizened old lady carrying all her belongings in a plastic shopping bag slowly making her way down Oracle Road.

What surprised me was when I looked in the mirror and saw my mother. Even my hands have begun to look like hers, worn and wrinkled now from years of washing dishes, tending gardens, cleaning house, cleaning up after children.

I remember being seven years old . . . running through an open field of Queen Anne’s lace on a July morning near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Like other little girls – like my mother and her mother before her, I dreamed of castles in the sky, men on white horses . . .

For women of my generation, trailblazing meant the uncharted territory of feminism. I planned to travel the world, embark on a meaningful career, maybe, if I was lucky, raise a family. Do it all! How could I know time and circumstances would wear me down – a big black wave washing over me as the losses mounted.

Then I was back in the sunlight, back in Arizona. Tucson – a contrast of unrivaled mountainous and desert splendor, poverty of the homeless and the disenfranchised. Here in moonlit canyons and starlit skies reaching as far as the eye can see, in breath-taking "postcard" sunrises, I am home – back to Susan.
“The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” ~ Elizabeth Bishop, American poet.

Our Women’s Writing Circle, our writing, leads us to memories that invoke powerful connections with others . . .we write about our perceptions of the world, as much as our feelings. We write our history, our baggage. This is the promise, the risk and the adventure of writing our stories. We conquer the losses.

I wish this for you, fellow writers. Take a risk! Indulge in an adventure, shake it up . . . and explore the life unexpected.

What risks have  you taken with your writing? What stories came unexpectedly but begged to be told? Your comments, thoughts, most welcome.

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