The Story That Needs Telling

I signed up for the Trust30 writing prompts for the month of June. The first prompt was this:

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

(Author: Gwen Bell)”

And so I wrote this (If it causes you concern for my mental health, please bear in mind that the month of May was probably the most out of balance I’ve been in several years.)

“I never managed to do what I was “supposed” to, but it seems I always managed to do what was needed… eventually. I think my biggest mistake was thinking that it was never enough, impressive enough. I wanted to be Virginia Woolf, or Maude Barlowe, or Vandana Shiva or… somebody. I wanted to feel like it mattered, that somehow I had turned up.

I’m sorry I spent my life trying to be somebody else. Seems that what mattered really were the moments, not the accomplishments. So I never wrote an article that was published in a major magazine, and I never managed to get something on the CBC. I guess my ideas are out there, somewhere, in dribs and drabs. Most people’s are.

I admit I am disappointed, though. I thought it would be different, this life thing. Turns out, maybe, maybe that what I needed was a lot more nothing in my life. Less striving, more sitting. Never got the hang of these schedule things – just another bit to fail at in my opinion. Best not to make plans, that way you won’t be disappointed. Also, in my experience, people always put too much into the schedule, not enough down time, not enough sitting, too much doing. The world needs more yoga, less driving.

Some of my best moments were the nothing ones. Snuggling on the couch, watching the clouds, not even reading a book, not even meditating. Just… nothing. Those were when I felt most truly like I got it. There weren’t enough of those.

Meditation, yoga, snuggling, sitting in the green, creating. All the rest was born of desperation to be seen, Ozymandias-like, I suppose.

Virginia Woolf ended badly, anyway. And I’m going out with a cat on my lap, wind in the trees, and chickens ’round the corner. Far better than a pocket full of rocks.”

And that’s when the timer went. So that is the story I would have left, had it all in fact come to a conclusion while I was sitting in my deck chair this morning.

5 responses to “The Story That Needs Telling”

  1. No concern for your mental health, just appreciation for your honesty. I can so relate to your story. The line that most struck me and is soooo profound is “Some of my best moments were the nothing ones.” Thanks.

  2. Hm. More nothing, no plans? And meanwhile, I’m thinking about putting myself on a schedule — will be posting about it later today. We’ll see how my plan works out, and if it doesn’t, I’ll send myself right back to this post.

    Glad you’re back! xox

    • Ironically, I’m *thinking* I need more routine in my life. Is it fair to say that routine is not quite the same as schedule?

      • In my book, the main difference between a routine and a schedule is that a routine simply gives you a sequence of events to follow whereas a schedule associates at least some of the events in the sequence to clock time. And right now I think I do need to be looking at the clock.