So here we are on Day 1 of NaBloPoMo, and I am so cowed by the commitment that I don't even know what to say. Isn't it wonderful how our own minds can box us in even under the pretext of exercising to free us?
Similarly, I have been thinking for a few months about this blog, how I identify myself through it and other things I make, how I identify myself in the world, who I am to myself. It's not so important to me how other people see me, except insofar as that perception may act out of my hands and even perhaps outside my knowledge to shape my choices. Instead I drift and bog down in swampy questions of purpose, whether I am creating enough, whether I am giving enough, whether I am achieving the life I want, whether I have boxed myself in and stuck a label on the box to seal it.
Recent changes in my life have forced some of these thoughts upon me, naturally. Who am I, for example, without cats in my life? A person scrabbling out a hard existence in a war-torn African desert or jungle might laugh at the absurdity of such a question, but you know for me it's quite real and quite devastating. I have also known protracted hardship and violence, even starvation, though not war. I do know the difference between my life and that of this scrabbler I envision. Nevertheless, this is where I stand right now, and from here is where I have to guide my steps. I am in a place where no one relies on me, no one needs me to get up in the morning, no small helpless person requires my protection, advocacy, or even company. And I'm a little wobbly. And it's breaking everything, even my relationship with my true love, who is wonderful but all at once does not seem to want what I want or need what I need.
The question of who I am without one of my legs seems so beside the point. It is beside the point, actually. It's just the shape of my body. It's just part of the texture and timing of each day on the most mechanical level. It doesn't mean anything. It isn't me; it isn't not me. On many levels, it's really no more than a wardrobe change. And then as soon as I say something like that, hubris jumps out from behind a rock and forces me to remember how much more than that it can make itself.
So given that, let's look at the title of this blog. Let's look at the subtitle, "past amputation, back to life." It would have been so easy to go "back to life" if it hadn't been for those other losses, the cat a year since the leg came off, old cats all, deeply loved intimate friends all. How am I to go back to life when life around me is dropping away? I feel so keenly that I have less life now than I did three years ago, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any silly amputation or any of the stupid physical hurdles it created for me. My life happens in my heart. I never left it. It is leaving me, tiny bit by tiny bit, love by love, and I can't just go out and buy some more like a fresh tomato or a new box of salt. Okay, it's not leaving, it's changing. But I can't tell what it's changing into, and regardless, it feels very, very far away today.
It happens in waves. I've seen it before. Life pulls away with a sucking whirl, and then roars forth and smashes itself upon us. We eagerly stretch our arms to touch it sooner, we rush into it, we run from it, we let it tumble us around and throw us onto rocks or sand all confused, maybe even close to death, and we do not know from day to day which it will be, whether we will have more or less strength this day or another, what the damage will be, what gifts will be laid upon the shore, when we will drown. I am back to life. I was never not back to life. I'm just waiting for the next wave to gather itself and do...whatever it will do.
While I wait, I think I need to change the subtitle of this blog. I think I shall take the month of November to find the right words.
Maybe something will come to me.
(click to enlarge)