February 2nd, Groundhog Day, the day when all are transfixed by whether or not a rodent in Pennsylvania will see his shadow or not. It’s almost makes as much sense as a group of Iowans in last nights caucus tossing a coin to see who gets their votes, thus their delegates, it’s all a game of chance. Spring will come when it does, regardless of what the groundhog sees or is blind to, we will have another president come next January, regardless of any coin toss, life, in all its uncertainties, continues. This past Sunday marked the 250th day since I was hit by that car door. In my mind I would have thought that this would be further back in the rear view mirror of life, but it still lingers close. The constant ache in the hip, especially on those cold, winter mornings as I walk the dog, remind me of that day and the need to just get up and move. I have learned that there are no certainties, that my life as well as everyone’s life is truly a leap of faith each day we get up and go out the door. No one is going to hand you a million bucks or that great, once in a lifetime opportunity, we all go about our lives with the future a dim grey on the horizon, as Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly.”
I recently started another writing class at Grub Street, it’s called Writing Fiction from Real Life. It has been interesting, taking what I know and then creating a fictional scene. If anything, I have a deeper respect for those authors who write novels and short stories, it takes discipline as well as a willingness to throw yourself open to the the various whims of a fickle audience. Being able to create vivid scenes, characters who draw us into the story, the complex issues of human life, love, sex, betrayal, the disappointments and joys, are things we all experience and where the author draws from to hook us. Sometimes though, writing from real life brings back those long dormant memories, like that groundhog, these memories peak out of the hole we have put them in and cast a long shadow upon those feelings. The shadows of missed opportunities, of lost loves, lost friends, deep regrets of things said and unsaid. It’s from this stew that we create our story, our unique view of all that is around us, how we see one another, how we continue to push forward when it would be easier to just quit.
As I reflect on these past few months, the days since the accident, I see that taking these writing classes as a way to process the deeper feelings. The mirror is still dim yet the future has a framework, but there is much work to be done. Yesterday, as I was walking my dog past the winter woods, I noticed how far I could see, the rocks and bare trees, the small, frozen water falls, the birds flying to and fro. Wintertime gives us that space to see deeper into the woods and this has been my personal wintertime, a time to see deeper into the tangled mess of my own wooded landscape. Visions and dreams populate the periphery of these woods and it is in this place that I begin to write. There is a fierce beauty, a wildness that is at once both frightening and inviting, a place of darkness and light where the shadows mingle and the chorus sings it’s siren call. It’s no wonder C.S. Lewis called it the Shadowlands, here there are no certainties, only our own hopes and dreams taking those things that we have picked up along the path, talismans of life and faith.