The comfort in patterns

We were getting near the end of it though the news warned of a fourth wave. And I’d been off work for a month now which seemed great from a distance but got strange the more I got inside of it. I couldn’t get out as I normally would with my foot messed up and the gardening season hadn’t begun. I set daily goals and fiddled around the house but most days didn’t add up to much. Quitting drinking sounded good in the abstract but didn’t produce quantifiable benefits to outweigh the loss. I staged internal debates, what they call ‘bargaining’ from an addiction standpoint. The internal talks led to no more than unresolved tension. I circled the house adjusting picture frames and rearranging shoes in the entryway. Restocking toilet paper and kitchen roll, smashing fruit flies that fed off the soil in our sickly plants. Picking dead leaves off the tiling by the bath tub, wiping down counters. With a whole month off I could start writing letters to family members, fix the generator, reorganize the garage, start flossing again, trim my beard. Write. But of course I didn’t do any of that, I sat and thought instead. Or took long baths. For days I had the same song stuck in my head and wondered what was wrong with me. Strange dreams that hang on you the next day like cob webs.

The kids had mid-winter break, a week off. We drove several hours to Brad’s cabin and on the third day got out the guns. Lily had never fired a pistol before and we decided it was time. Brad took her through the safety protocol and I sat from the inside watching her aim at a patch of earth below the rise. The lake was frozen over and covered with fresh snow so we walked to the middle of it. Ice fishermen set up tents where they fried fish and small kids huddled together out of the wind. Guys with bibs carried drills with auger bits, a few had snow mobiles. It was not the kind of weekend it would have been if mom had been there.

At times it felt like my life was over already by the protracted pace of things. There was no way to calculate how much remained but still I tried. You had to believe your life was worth living and project into the future, that’s what my counselor said. I formed vague images of what our life could be like and they all took me back to the French countryside with old cottages and wood-burning stoves. The look of the land as the seasons changed and me as an artist who needed no outside validation, could just create for myself and that was enough. My life knit into a pattern I could lose myself in and not worry about the design.



Categories: writing

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19 replies

  1. I constantly have songs stuck in my head, often for weeks at a time. And I wonder what my subconscious is trying to communicate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The space between thinking and doing is a chasm.
    I’ve decided to take three months off from my column so I can recalibrate and put some good work into my bigger writing projects. [laughs uproariously] Remember when we talked about writer as identity? When I sent my notice (and only for three months!) I felt a wave of anxiety, like I’d just jumped off an uncertain cliff. What if that’s it…?
    Sobriety ain’t a cure, just the end of certain symptoms.
    All caught up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are caught up, wow. Thanks for being there. I’m glad you’re taking time off if that helps catapult you forward. Seems a constant struggle of not getting stuck I find. Some musicians I read about, like Bob Pollard from Guided by voices claim “I never get writers block because I never stop.” And the chasm between sounding fresh and unfinished. Ah jeez I hate writing about writing but it’s still writing I suppose. Thanks for reading and chiming in, nice sounding chimes. “Ching “

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  3. Good morning. I like your writing never mind the topic.
    Before I retired last year one of my goals was to start writing life stories for my children and grandchildren ( and myself), but unfortunately I got stuck.
    This virus stole many of my goals but also gave me lots of silence and time away from people to recover emotionally after so many years of constant work and go-go -go.
    Lying on the bed watching Netflix is done with no guilt feelings now.
    However, I long for the days that I can meet people in my new city; learn line-dancing; play cards and go for walk in groups.
    I love reading your posts and learn from you while I contemplate starting to post stuff soon.
    English is my second language, but I seem to be doing better in it now than my home language that I hardly ever use for writing these days.
    I cannot imagine life without wine with food on occasion or my favorite sundowner Scotch Whiskey. Good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Inamarie! Your English is better than most native speakers, what is your first language? Thanks for sharing here and for reading, sorry to hear you got stuck but it’s still a good goal you have to leave life stories for your family; that’s similar to mine as you can probably tell. It’s hard to imagine life without drinking as you describe! Thanks for wishing me luck, appreciate that. Be well! Enjoy the Netflix, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And when you get bored with that you can hop over to Hulu.

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  4. ‘My life knit into a pattern I could lose myself in and not worry about the design.’ Oh yes! Talk about bons mots. Every one counts. My life seems to be one of dropped stitches and pending unravelment – at least on the writing front. More power to your endeavours, Bill. You WILL get there.

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  5. Well I could definitely see you packing up again and heading to France on a one way ticket. But I think if that were going to happen it probably would have happened already. We shouldn’t think so much, though. Thinkin’s like stinkin’, they say.

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    • Who knows? Funny what we imagine, if we do, looking out like that. It’s not the kind of thing I get my kicks doing but if you don’t, you kind of land wherever I suppose. And maybe that’s alright too. Enjoy the day Homer!

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  6. Hi Bill, things in this piece took me back fifty years or so to ‘The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade’. In that extraordinary play, the French revolutionary Marat sits, in delerium, bathing his sores, lamenting the failed French Revolution and urging us, the audience-inmates, on with his rambling and recollections to reignite the revolution. Meanwhile, from across the hall, the Marquis De Sade recounts the more gruesome aspects of the Revolution…
    And me on speed.
    Cheers,
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Well I would have just been born then, late 1970. I own that play and did a couple years of theater in college; my director mentioned that one a couple times. When I was a young teen and idolizing Jim Morrison I first heard about it through him, in a sense. But couldn’t make sense of it when I tried to read it. Maybe speed would help? Ha ha! Be well David. Thanks for this, made my day.

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      • In the seventies, I spent a lot of time exploring things that didn’t make sense to me;. Luckily I stumbled across statistics; it imazed me that the abstract could reveal things hidden in the shadows.
        Here’s to Jim Morrison too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love that curiosity and (on a more clinical note) how data can reveal truths, what a change we’ve undergone with technology to that end, perhaps a new angle on statistics and patterns. I was such a fan-boy over Jim Morrison I’m almost embarrassed by it but so it goes. I wrote a paper pronouncing his poetry early on in college. And my hippy professors seemed entertained by it at least. Never understood really his connection with Artaud but I imagine it was quite a thing at the time. I’m glad I got a touch of Stanislavsky via Ute Hagen and now see different depths to good acting. Maybe some day I’ll have the strength to read the Russians too.

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  7. Your last paragraph sure feels familiar down inside … the yearning to “go back” … knowing it would not be the same if we did (because WE are not the same as we were) … and the not-knowing how long we get to keep going, keep experiencing change inside and outside!

    Liked by 1 person

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