Doorways is a series I am launching right now - every day for the month of January I will be practicing life writing here on the blog. That means posts will be about life, which may or may not include writing about books. This is a writing project, a challenge to myself to start off 2017 by focusing on my creative life.
I'm not going to be writing about books today. It's time for me to sit down and write about life. This month I'm going to be focusing on putting my life into words, even if it's just a few meandering thoughts each day. Life writing is one of those terms I've adopted from the academic world, encompassing all kinds of writing and recording a life - diaries, memoirs, letters, meditations, work logs, autobiography, etc. My first instinct when it comes to writing is for fiction, but lately there's been a certain pull toward something grounded in my own personal experience. As a writing exercise, this month will be an intriguing challenge.
Today's entry comes in 4 parts.
As an intensely private person, I am never comfortable talking about myself - even on my own blog, heck even in my therapy sessions. But maybe that's a sign that I need to open up a bit more, put myself out there. Challenging myself is especially important now as I'm attempting, somehow, to reconfigure my life. It just so happens that this period I've set aside for personal growth coincides with the start of the new year. This timing wasn't planned, in fact I'm upending my life precisely because living by the plan wasn't working out so well, but it is quite fortuitous.
I much prefer an offhand 'hi' - the kind of greeting for a rainy day, when you've shuffled into the coffee shop ten minutes late to meet an old friend, and you're umbrella is only broken spokes and floppy vinyl wholly ineffective at shielding you from the sheets of icy rain, wet and cold and flustered you nod across the room at your friend with a smile, 'Hi', and awkwardly you try to signal silently that you're going up to the counter to order a coffee, desperate for something warm, but you're self-conscious about pointing as you can hear your mother's voice chastising you 'It's rude to point fingers', and your friend understands because even though you haven't seen each other in several months she knows you need a few moments to recover from the unpleasantness of running late in the rain with a broken umbrella and the wrong shoes. So, hi. Sorry I'm a bit late getting here and I'm a mess, but thanks for waiting. It's good to see you, how've you been? You had better go first, because if you want to know how I've been, the story will take a while.
In order to welcome this new year, full of changes and challenges and new experiences, I need to close the door on 2016, on what wasn't working in my life. I've spent my 20s saying goodbye a lot - living abroad means constantly leaving loved ones, getting used to saying goodbye, though usually it's accompanied by 'until next time'. It's harder to say goodbye to myself, not that I haven't tried. In the past when I've tried to leave behind a version of myself, it's been for all the wrong reasons. The cliché 'running from myself' comes to mind when I think back on those hasty attempts to fly away from an 'old life'. This is something different, or at least I hope it is.
It should be 'farewell' as that's all I can hope for, to fare well. I'm not really saying goodbye to an old self this time around, I'm not even going to reinvent myself. I'm not going to self-destruct, even though I want to slam the door on 2016 and run off into the wilderness. There's that little voice inside whispering - now that I have the chance, maybe I should give up my life and live as a hermit in the woods. But it's not good just running out on life. Yes, I'm marching out the door but there I am on the other side - wherever you go, there you are and all that, though more pertinent is the properly profound Confucius quote used in many a graduation message, 'Wherever you go, go with all your heart'. So I'm not really saying goodbye at all, except symbolically as a ritual for putting the past behind me as I move on to strange, new things. Rituals are important.
It's funny what comes out when you sit down to write. Mainly a bunch of run-on sentences.