I took another box of mixed media from the house, the house my father last lived in. Most of the holiday cards I threw out, their messages meaningful only to Norman. Many of the photographs were ones I had sent him, or copies of pictures he had snapped and sent to me years ago. Several letters from my uncle I sent on to my cousin, sure that she would appreciate the insight into her father. Letters from my grandmother, Florette, I saved for a rainy day read.
Methodically I sorted the box’s contents, pausing now and again to hold a memory tight. And then, just as I thought there was really nothing new here, I came upon an envelope postmarked 1985. Pearl Freeman had shared a few photographs with my father. Without annotations or a note of explanation, I don’t know the relationship but apparently this stranger was sharing adolescent memories.
To date the photographs I pulled out a few key details that my father had shared about his high school years.
If Pearl Freeman, or a descendant/friend, is reading this post, I hope you will leave a memory in the comments!!!
I have not written much on this blog since my mother died. The daily exercise failed to distract my grieving brain.
Instead I hopped into a genealogical burrow and nosed around through its labyrinth of story lines, tumbling out in previously unknown family territory and time. The research begged for more than a cursory post. I drifted for a while, before I befriended a deadline, and realized how important these “time to stop writing” moments are in the process of developing a story, of finishing thoughts, of discovering what emotional responses to ancestral tales actually mean–to me, today. An article has been published in my local genealogical society’s newsletter. I drafted a 3000 word essay, that still sucks, but is the transformative story before the story, the first baby step in confronting my family’s legacy of enslaving.
Now I return to the blogger community, to embrace daily prompts, tiny deadlines. This community is my channel, the place where my stream of words can bounce up against the research rocks, and rush over and under branches of “what ifs” and “whys”, to sing the past into the present.
Thank you for listening to my songs.
Within the last week I read an article about commitment, or rather keeping a commitment. In sum, the author stated that it is easier to practice your craft or hone your skill, develop new habits and deepen your spiritual practice if you commit 100%. No creeping “well, just this once I won’t take my binoculars” or “I’ll get to the writing tomorrow.”
So I am committed to this experiment. If I write every day on this blog or on my work-in-progress Shared Legacy narrative (more on that later), no excuses, will the writer’s block melt? If I take my binoculars or camera everywhere I go, will I spend at least a few minutes mindfully every day? And if I write and deeply look at my world, will I find myself energized and engaged?
What have you, dear reader, decided to commit 100% to? What tricks did you develop to hold yourself accountable?