Monday, May 30, 2005

Midlife

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.

9 comments:

Mel said...

Belated Happy Birthday Anne! I enjoyed reading your post, especially as I have just been musing on my blog about my own getting-older issues...having turned 43 a few weeks ago. Enjoy P-town - I have always wanted to go...maybe Em and I will join you next summer...

jenni said...

I think you should write about the territory you are covering in this post--it's universal i think--who doesn't at one time or another question their choices?


happy belated birthday anne.

Brian Campbell said...

Hi Anne. Happy Birthday to you (I hardly know ya, but I'm happy you were born...). I've enjoyed reading your posts about writers' workshops -- indeed, have cut and pasted them and will circulate them to members of a workshop I've formed...I think they may be a great help. got them thru AD's blog.

Cheers!

Brian

Emily Lloyd said...

Anne, this is a beautiful, beautifully written post that makes me want to say (though I am an internet voice) I love you. So, I say that. And I think, for myself, for health, maybe for most--a good, good deal of contentedness, with a small gem-bright edge of intensity. Which it seems you had when you wrote this.

A. D. said...

Anne-
Are you a Vonnegut fan? Have you read Bluebeard? I think you should—I'll happily loan you my copy if you'd like.

Suzanne said...

Happy Birthday!

This is a great prompt for a poem:

'There are things that are mine to write about, and things that are not.'

Radish King said...

Thanks for thisBe kind to yourselves, friends -- be kind.

I really needed to be reminded.

xxoo

Ginger Heatter said...

We all have our lots and our not-lots, but I don't believe intensity alone makes an artist. In fact, it can be handicap. All the best, and Happy (belated) Birthday, Anne!

Anne said...

Thanks, all, for the birthday & assorted wishes (even if it's taken me a while to acknowledge them). I think my post was me stumbling towards whatever the heck I'm supposed to write about. Maybe.

A.D., I have read some Vonnegut, but not Bluebeard -- I will add that to my list right now! I have an enormous research library literally at my fingertips (since I work inside of it), so sometime soon I will trot upstairs -- I'm quite certain we must have a copy.

Em and Mel (who really should, alphabetically speaking, live on Elm Street) -- you should certainly go to P-town; it's a wonderful, welcoming place, if too damned expensive. Wouldn't it be fun to get a bunch of people together in P-town, take over a B&B or two, and have a bit of a retreat? Writers could write, people could gather in small groups or grab some solitary time on the beach, books would be passed around and talked about, and there'd be readings in the evenings. Mmmmm.

All of these comments together made me feel much better without calling up a shred of "there, there." You guys rock. I love this little community. Thank you.