One year ends, another starts; the end is where we start from.
The things that ended in in my life 2018:
My father’s death in July was the end of a long life. His death changed my day-to-day world: the end of spending afternoons with him, taking him to appointments, and just visiting; it’s the end of paying his bills, and witnessing first the courage with which he made his life as a widower meaningful and then the determination with which he accepted death.
- This is the year I completed my term as Chair of the Board of the Brattleboro Community Justice Center, where I’d accomplished much of what I set out to do: create a board that was larger than any one individual, complete with by-laws, committees, a first draft of a Policies and Procedures Manual, and the hiring of a new, visionary and energetic Executive Director. I left the BCJC in good hands.
- As an unintended consequence of breaking my fifty-year silence about having been sexually abused as a child, I’ve also ended my long-term relationship with Vermont Public Radio for refusing to allow me to use the term “grandfather” to identify my long-dead abuser.
- After seven years writing for the New Hampshire Writers Network blog, Live to Write – Write to Live about the craft of business of writing, I’ve said Goodbye and Farewell.
But as the poet says, “ . . . to make an end is to make a beginning./The end is where we start from.”[*]
So as this year ends, a new one begins, with new priorities. All that’s ended has created a new spaciousness for attending to what’s ahead.
- Less driving. Without my Dad to care for, without meetings at the BCJC, and without dashing down to Brattleboro to record commentaries, I’m freeing up several hours a week I used to spend driving up and down Vermont Route 30. This will reduce my carbon footprint and improve my concentration.
- Ending my silence by telling my story of abuse has been illuminating and liberating. It has helped me recognize that I am not alone, and that by speaking out, I’m helping other survivors of familial sexual abuse. I’m seeing that the abuse groomed me for silence and hampered my writing – until now. Telling my story of abuse and the story of how hard it is to tell this particular narrative in the mainstream media has made me less fearful of using my voice, especially against censorship. By censoring these stories, media gatekeepers effectively deny that familial sexual abuse occurs. Worse, they potentially perpetuate it by enforcing silence and shame.
- To have more time to focus on weighty and charged issues means that I have to really clear my calendar, my desk, and my mind from obligations that had become interruptions to my train of thought, so I said Goodbye and Farewell to NHWN. I loved reaching this large, international and generous audience. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was time.
- I continue to help writers by facilitating Writing Circles, including the weekly Rosefire Writing Circle and by offering one-on-one Manuscript Development.
- Part of less driving is also being more selective about how far I’ll travel when I’m asked to give a public talk. I’m especially cutting back on night driving, because it’s hard for me to stay awake at the wheel and to fall asleep when I return home. Each morning is a new beginning and the work I do before dawn often determines the success of the rest of my day.
- But mostly, and most importantly, this paring down is coming to terms with the finite nature of time, despite the expanding universe. I have two long-form projects on my desk that I want to give my full attention: finishing another novel set in the fictional town of Orton, and drafting a non-fiction narrative about reading Vermont’s landscape by learning to hunt.
- Essentially, by driving less and writing more about where I am, I’m reaffirming my dedication to Living in Place. My intention is to continue to post here most weeks. I thank you for being one of my readers.
Wishing you satisfying endings to this calendar year, and energizing beginnings to the next,
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
[*] T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding