October 23rd, 2007

cocked and loaded


Every time something happens to interrupt the flow of words to this journal—vacations, business trips, illnesses, general maniac busyness—I find it harder to get back on track. There was a time, some years ago, when for a whole year and then some I actually wrote something nearly every day. Every day! What perserverance I must have had then, back when I was a young thing, with sparkles in my eyes and a spring in my step.**

Then I decided to cut myself some slack and you can see, if you look at my journal calendars, that I began slacking and never looked back. Now it sometimes feels like there are more gaps than entries posted here. That's not something I'm proud of, but it seems to be a natural tendency, a rhythm that swoops along and carries me with it, will I or won't I.

Did you know that's where the phrase "willy-nilly" comes from? Will he or nill he. Will I or nill I? Some days, I will and some days? I darn well nill.

Often I think, when I'm pondering things to write about here, that I've already written about them. I've already written about my favorite memories, shared reminiscences that moved me to laughter or to tears. I've already told about the popsicles in the garage box freezer in my grandmother's house and the art portfolio my father made for me out of cardboard and green duct tape.

I hesitate to repeat myself. I do a little mental stutter and retreat. I no longer seem to trust the organizational abilities of my own mind to come up with items of suitable freshness and je ne sais quois. And I'm convinced I write about writing too much. (see? here I go again) Sheesh, lizardek, flog that deadbeat horse! Writing...as if it's so I N T E L L E C T U A L or something.

What I want to know is, more than I want to know why the birds always seem to be flying in formation in the WRONG DIRECTION around here, is how to motivate someone to write. Oh, not myself! I know exactly how to motivate myself. I just can't always be bothered to do it. Heh. No, what I really want to do is motivate someone else. Someone whose wisdom and stories and history and experience are irreplaceable. When I look at the stack of neatly bound, shiny-covered books that represent the first 3.5 years of writing I've done here, what I see is a gift to my children, and to their children, and theirs. I wish my parents (and their parents, and THEIRS) had kept journals, had written down their daily doings and their thoughts and jokes and the silly things their children did and said when they were growing up, the way I am.

I hope my children will read my journals some day and be as appreciative of them as I would be of my mom's if I could motivate her to write. How much more alive would that make the flat outline of the family tree? It would flesh out countless leaves with humor and happenings and the rustling buzz and whisper of life.

So, I keep starting again, after every interruption, every illness and trip and week full of appointments and activities and stuff to do. I don't want to lose the thread completely, because there really is an ulterior motive here for me, in the writing.

It all boils down to supreme selfishness. I want to be remembered, of course, even if it's just by my great-great-grandchildren who dig my journals out of some musty attic boxes with "KITCHEN" written on the side in scrawling black marker. Even if it's just MY children who read them when they're 40 and suddenly see things from the other side and maybe understand a little better who the person behind the mother mask was.

*Elizabeth Barrett Browning
**Same year I turned, um...29. Coincidence? You be the judge.