There are things that are mine to write about. I'm forty-four years old now -- "midlife" by any definition; given my family history in which hardly anyone makes it past about 70 years old (and the ones who make it that far are in the minority), I'm probably well past the middle of my life. Tonight my mom and I watched a documentary about the violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who is just about my age. She talked about her devotion to her work, and about her suicide attempt at one low point when -- it was implied -- her work, her art, was not enough to overcome loneliness and loss. I don't have her intensity and sometimes I wish I did. But would I go where she went, would I willingly go there even if it meant I would write with as much genius as she pours into her playing? Last night Mom and I watched a Bobby McFerrin concert on DVD. He's a freakin' genius too -- the man embodies music, apparently has a red telephone hotwired directly to the muse. But he seems to have so much joy. It's an intensity, but a very different one from Nadja's.
Do I have any of that intensity, either the painful passion or the joyous kind? Am I mired in middle-aged mediocrity? When I'm dying -- whenever that happens -- will I wish I'd taken the standard route and put my energies into finding a partner, having a family? Has what I've done with my life so far been enough to justify not taking that route? It's too late for many things now -- so where do I go with this?
There are things that are mine to write about, and some of them I've barely touched so far. Some of them I may never touch even though they're mine. Some of them belong in dark rooms and silence. Some of them don't.
In my life, I am mostly happy. Content. Is contentedness enough? It is if you're a cat, but for a woman?
There are things that are mine to write about, and things that are not.
All day today I've had a stunning headache. I've barely been online while I've been here at my mom's, which makes me realize how much this online world serves to fill the gaps when I have no actual human voices around me. And poetry, what gaps does that fill? The ones that will always be there no matter what?
Back tomorrow night. Probably won't catch up on comments or email until Tuesday night. Be kind to yourselves, friends -- be kind.