This year I am more than ready for summer and its more relaxed pace. February was a dreadful month for me when I received news of my dear mother’s passing in Scotland. It took me three months of mourning before I could resume my normal activities of riding my bike to the gym, and working. My brain was in a fog and I could not bring myself to write anything intelligent. This was my first experience with writer’s block, as I sat staring at a blank computer screen while the creative side of my brain was on strike.
Fortunately, I had finished writing Mystery Beckons Her, and a military biography, As Long As We Still Live, a WWII memoir which included vignettes of mom’s life during the war in Europe. I knew that working was the best panacea for my broken heart, and that it was unrealistic of me to hope that she could continue to live with Parkinson’s after her 95th birthday, so I am grateful for all the wonderful moments we shared together. And hopeful that we can find a cure to this insidious disease soon.
I don’t feel like my normal zany self yet, and I think it will take me longer to bounce back, so I am forcing myself to work to fill in the hours. Do we ever get used to death? I suppose religious people will tell me that she is in “a better place,” but being the realist that this romantic has become, I doubt it!
If I may be permitted to borrow an idea from “wabi sabi”, Zen Buddhism, that says perfection does not exist, it might make it easier for this neurotic perfectionist to accept the way things are — (politics excluded) to find happiness. Another exception might be my computer with whom I have a running battle, and of course my cell phone which I would like to drop in the pool this summer, and speaking of the long lines at the airport which cause me to have a coronary thrombosis, despite the fact that I have the pre-check authorization to walk to the front of the lines which generates dirty looks. Ah yes — what was I talking about? Happiness? I am a far trek away from such a feeling these days.
Being a writer I can’t afford the luxury of cynicism, because writing romantic novels means I have to give lovers hope. And those who do not have a love, a prospect of finding love soon. A hope for happiness in an imperfect world. As the song goes: “summertime and the livin’ is easy.” I don’t know what Gershwin had in mind when he wrote that “livin’ is easy…” for I find living complicated. Not difficult or without beauty, excitement and adventure, but sometimes forcing myself to pretend I have returned to my cheerleading days of cheering my fellow life-learners on, as in doing so I also “keep right on to the end of the road” which gives me the strength to continue.
The death of my beloved Shih-Tzu Zuzi, two years ago and my mother’s demise this year, sent me in to a depression that forced me to face my own mortality, and opened questions that I had never thought about before. If I believed that I would die but remain in this earth returning as a rose to feed a delightful little hummingbird, then I would have nothing to fear. After all, one life as a writer is enough for a hundred lifetimes of reincarnation. To quote one of my favorite writers, Oscar Wilde, “to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
So… I am now writing Steaming Odyssey, about my adventures in the Iran Contra scandal.