Whenever I’ve attempted to meditate, the thing that’s been hardest for me is coming up with a visual – a prerecorded moment of bliss that will lull me into tranquility. Like a lake or a beach or a meadow – though actually I’ve not spent much time in meadows. Every memory I have of such places is fraught with context – who I was with, why I was there, what happened next, what didn’t happen that was supposed to, etcetera.
I think I found my moment on Saturday, floating on my back in the clearest, most perfect version of the Atlantic I’ve ever known, the sun shining on my SPF’d face and the surprisingly decent resort troubadour playing What a Wonderful World. Say what you will; I love that song.
My long weekend away was not perfect – like most of my times away of late it had the patina of guilt that I don’t live a life at home that merits vacationing. I haven’t done enough – worked hard enough – suffered enough – to earn it. That’s what was especially wonderful about this break: I wrote. I wrote and revised 85 pages of my novel, based on the outline I managed to cobble together shortly before I left. And I’m thrilled about this – I have, at long last, a story to tell. A story with a beginning, middle, and end, with protagonists who have purpose, with conflict and resolution. I have A storylines and B storylines – and even C, D, E and F ones. I know why my story takes place when and where it does and how my characters have wound up where they are at the start of the story. And I don’t have to change the opening line I’ve had since 2008: It rained nineteen inches the summer of the coat check girl.
This is not a story that will appeal to everyone – and that’s fine. It’s a story I want to read, about life, death, love, the things we mistake for love, hope, regret, self-doubt, self-delusion, memory, revisionist history, food, New York, and ghosts, in all their many manifestations.
This was how we spent our five days and nights: we woke between 7 and 8 and drank coffee, went to the beach, jogged on the beach, swam in the ocean, floated on the waves, read novels, ate lunch, wrote for four hours, ate great dinners, drank wine on the beach at night, and went to sleep early. We bonded – we’re new friends – and we told the stories of our lives, the good, the bad, the embarrassing and regretful. It was lovely.
And now I’m back, as ever changed by travel. And I am absolutely going to finish a draft of this thing. That’s all I ask at this point – to finish a draft. I don’t write with the hope of getting published, I write with the hope of finishing something I’ve written.
We are not the trappings of our lives, the things that people assume about us based on the limited information that they have. We are so much more than that. We are our hearts and souls, and only those who recognize this deserve to be part of our journeys around this weird and wild world.