Retiring from teaching for the second time in her life, she sat down in her office to survey the many things that needed to be completed before she could return to her old passion, writing.
She viewed the trunks and boxes of “saved” things which she had been meaning to take care of for over ten years. Then she thought of her current projects: Re-write three film scripts, continue with the novel based on fact and the other book of facts about students in her life; develop the three or four other scripts she had put aside for way too long; get back to information on the children’s book and becoming a publisher for it; flesh out the basics for three others in the series. And then it happened.
This feeling from deep inside began to swell and blossom into full bloom. “I don’t want to do it!” “ I will be 80 in less than a month and why do I feel the need for all the hustle and bustle?” Her thoughts continued trying to analyze this sudden feeling. It should be noted here that she was someone who always had to analyze the whys and wherefores of anything in her life. Was it because she always spent time with younger people? Was it because currently she was spending so much more time with writers of all types? Was it because this becoming a publisher herself entailed so much research, interviews, planning? Was it because she was still after the dream of success? She made the decision. “I don’t want to do it; I won’t do it!”
It was as if the weight of the world fell off of her body…too bad it wasn’t some of those excess pounds falling off. But, no matter, she felt a freedom inside. She knew some would say she was a quitter, but over the years she had grown a great deal when handling the critics. She also knew that her way was not necessarily their way and that was okay. And so she made decisions.
The film scripts would not be redone nor new ones started. Instead of becoming a publisher, she would get back to those publishers who had been interested in her children’s book. Completing that book and seeing it manifest into the final product was a must. It had been her way of trying to gift her one granddaughter who was complaining that Grandma had never taken her on all the trips her older brothers had been a part of. So what if this granddaughter was not happy with the rough cut she had seen. Well, she is a teenager and while she knew everything Grandma had in the book was true, it was difficult to think you as a toddler were being put out front to the world. She also knew that after she was gone that granddaughter would treasure the book and all the love that went into it. What else? Well she would complete the one novel based on fact which she started so many years ago when she first moved to Santa Fe. Her search for St.Clare in the Southwest. And yes, the book on students from her past and present, “The Story of My Life” would continue. She did hope Neil Diamond would give her permission to use that title from one of his songs. But these two books would not be rushed. She would write them on a different time schedule. She now realized how important it was “to be” and not so important “to do”.
Oh my God. A past memory like a shooting star raced through her mind.
She had been invited to a luncheon at Ellie’s home. It would be a gathering of people who didn’t necessarily know each other, but all knew Ellie who knew that these people would get along. It was interesting. Ellie bragged about making the hummus herself from scratch. There was a mingling of people and pleasant conversation as each went through the buffet lunch line. She filled her plate and sat next to a younger interesting looking woman. They bonded quickly as she took a big bite of what she thought was a slice of cheese but was in fact a big pat of butter. They laughed and introduced themselves. Funny how the universe takes over and gives you answers. For years she wondered what had happened to one of her favorite high school drama students. She had heard that this young woman had been on a popular soap opera for years. She had never been able to verify that. Well now she could. This woman who laughed with her about the butter incident turned out to be a half sister to that student, and she said the soap opera career had ended but her sister was now back in St.Louis and provided a phone number. Ellie then asked the group to settle down, form a circle and introduce themselves. Making a mental note to call the long lost student the very first chance she had, she along with her new found friend, moved chairs into the semicircle.
To her right sat a much older woman. As the introductions of self proceeded, she began her litany. Yes, she was 60 and taking early retirement from her University position. She would help her daughter, now a single parent, raise her two young boys and she would at long last write . She gave the list of film scripts, novels, articles, and oh yes, a script someone she met had written, a sort of science fiction kids thing. She loved it and planned to make a film from it. On and on she went, getting more excited with each project. She was like a whirlwind. Finally she stopped. Next was the older woman to her right with a demeanor calm and serene in contrast to her. She said, “How wonderful all of the things you have planned. But, perhaps you will discover over time that “being rather than doing” is what it’s all about.” That was all the woman said.
And over time….yes, she finally gets it.
She continues to encourage others who are still seeking something but for her it is a new type of living. She will continue writing because she relishes the process and has no need to be concerned about outcome. But she now takes time “to be”.